With 2017 in the books following a fairly surprising playoff berth, we look back at the season and our beloved Buffalo Bills. Every week is a story, and we bring this to you through the lens of key plays that defined the game. Your Week 9 match-up:
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
The Buffalo Bills were turning heads. At 5-2 they faced the New York Jets for their second game against the divisional foe. The Jets sat at 3-5 and were generally considered to be weaker competition than what the Bills had been beating all season. Still, Josh McCown was playing better than expected and the team was certainly not tanking as was predicted in the pre-season. Despite coming off a three-loss skid, they had strung together a three-win streak prior to that. Even in those recent losses, the Jets had been playing tough, with no game decided by more than one score.
We all know what happened. The Bills flew (slightly) East and got pummeled. The first half was a close affair, but then the bottom fell completely out. WARNING: The following images may be disturbing to some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.
Tyrod Taylor to Zay Jones TD (Q2, 14:57)
The Jets had struck first, but the Bills tied it up with this score to start the second quarter. Zay Jones runs a crisp route and Tyrod Taylor hits him in stride over the middle with good anticipation. This was Jones’ first NFL touchdown and he seals the deal with one of the best celebrations of the year. Give an assist to Andre Holmes.
Jordan Matthews fumble (Q2, 1:03)
The Jets responded with a field goal and the first half was drawing to a close. The Bills were in position to tie the game again and then...this happened. It’s unlikely Jordan Matthews makes the first down regardless, but the fumble erased any chance of going into halftime tied.
Bilal Powell 51-yard run (Q3, 5:13)
The Bills offense continued to sputter in the third quarter. The Jets had found the end zone again and the score sat at 7-17. The Bills gave the ball back to the Jets with good field position which they rapidly took advantage of. Miscues and poor execution were the themes of the day, and nowhere are they better exemplified on the defensive side than right here. Bilal Powell rumbles for 51 yards after approximately 42 missed tackles. The very next play, Matt Forte punched it into the end zone and the rout was on. It should be noted that this was the second game without Marcell Dareus, and the first where the opponent had time to game plan for his absence. The Jets racked up close to 200 yards on the ground all told and Bills fans came away with the sinking feeling that the defense couldn’t adjust to Dareus’ absence.
Nick O’Leary fumble (Q3, 2:42)
The Bills were trying to battle back. Nick O’Leary catches a pretty well-delivered ball and keeps the Bills hopes alive a little longer. O’Leary doesn’t play through the whistle and gift wraps the second fumble of the day for the Jets.
Tyrod Taylor fumble (Q4, 11:36)
The Bills had been feasting on turnovers for much of the season. This game was a complete reversal, with three Bills fumbles countered by zero turnovers from the Jets. Even worse, as the clips show, all three fumbles were recovered by the Jets. At 7-24, this three-score game was already bleak for Buffalo. Taylor loses the ball and moments later the Jets scored again.
Stephen Hauschka onside kicks (Q4, 4:09)
If there’s one positive from this debacle to take with you, note that the Bills never quit fighting. Down 14-34 with just over four minutes to play, Stephen Hauschka was called upon for an onside kick. Per the broadcast research, fans were informed that the Bills had not successfully pulled this off since 2011. Miraculously it worked. An offside on the onside kick, courtesy of Joe Webb, negated the recovery however. With nothing left to lose they tried it again, and recovered the ball again. Clearly, the Bills could only go up from here...