One step forward, two steps back is the way of the 2013 New York Jets.
The Jets continued their roller-coaster season of inconsistency on Sunday, losing 37-14 to the Buffalo Bills, equalling an NFL record of 10 consecutive win-one-lose-one games to start a season.
Fresh off their bye week, the Jets were flying high following their victory over the New Orleans Saints two weeks ago. But once again, as they have done after every one of their five wins this season, the Jets failed to take advantage of the opportunity before them and were thoroughly dismantled by the Bills.
“Just bad, man,” Jets QB Geno Smith said after the game. “The way I can sum up this game for myself is awful. I know that I can play better. I know that this isn’t who I am or what I want to be.”
In the NFL, it’s no secret that a teams’ fortunes generally hinge on the play of their quarterback. Nowhere is that more obvious than in New York. Geno Smith had his sixth multiple turnover game, which brought his season tally to 20-turnovers in his ten career starts. Smith was a picture of ineptitude, he threw three interceptions and fumbled once, finishing with an overall quarterback rating of 10.1 — the worst since Mark Sanchez’s 8.3 quarterback rating following a 5-interception performance against the Buffalo Bills in his rookie season. Smith only completed 35% of his attempts, and finished 8-of-23 for 103 yards and 3 interceptions.
“I hate using the word growing pains, but that’s exactly what it is for me,” Smith said. “And I know the situation we’re in with this team. We can’t have that, so I’ve got to clean that up.”
The Jets started the game slowly. They struggled to move ball, and missed a field goal — Nick Folk’s first miss in 24 attempts. It wasn’t until late in the second quarter that the wheels fell off, but in the blink of an eye the Jets were in a 20-0 hole they couldn’t climb out of.
On 4th-and-6 with the Bills about to punt the ball back to the Jets, defensive tackle Leger Douzable jumped offside, which allowed Bills QB EJ Manuel to execute a QB sneak for a first down. Manuel then promptly connected with wide receiver TJ Graham for a 34-yard touchdown over the head of rookie cornerback Dee Milliner, and a 10-0 lead.
Moments later Geno Smith had his first of four turnovers. Smith fumbled inside the Jets 10-yard line, which set up a 3-yard Bills touchdown run and a 17-0 lead. The lead increased more moments later when Smith threw an interception to Bills safety Jarius Byrd, which lead to a Bills field goal, a 20-0 lead at halftime — an unrecoverable defecit that the Jets wouldn’t recover from.
Following Smith’s third interception of the day, which was returned 32 yards for a touchdown by Da’Norris Searcy, the Jets ended the rookie’s woeful day early and sent him to the bench. Backup Matt Simms entered the game and led the Jets on an impressive scoring drive, culminating in a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland — Simms finished the game 4-of-6 for 60-yards and a touchdown.
The Jets latest signing, future hall-of-famer Ed Reed, proved to be of little assistance to a struggling Jets secondary. Rookie EJ Manuel completed 20-of-28 passes for 245-yards and two deep touchdown passes of 34 and 56 yards.
“I don’t think Ed Reed was a problem,” Ryan said. “They never threw it over Ed’s side on the deep ball, so I don’t believe that was the case.”
The loss drops the Jets back into the thick of the AFC playoff race as they head into Baltimore on Sunday to face the Ravens — a win would’ve given them a significant edge over the flurry of eight teams currently with 4-6air 5-5 records.
One step forward, two steps back.