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Week 10 Game Recap: Buffalo Bills 22, New York Jets 17


What you need to know

Buffalo Bills

The strength of the Buffalo Bills offense is in its running backs. LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams are both playing very strongly and should be a threat to any NFL defense. The passing game has been a little more lackluster but a better throw on the first play against the Jets would have given the Bills 82 more yards and one more TD. The issue for the Bills now is the lack of depth in the receiving core. Robert Woods is a good player but would probably be better suited to the WR3 role while Sammy Watkins has all the talent but does not play consistently enough to currently be a top WR1.

New York Jets

• New York committed four turnovers and made numerous mental mistakes that led to their third loss in their last four games. Those mental mistakes started at the very top as Todd Bowles made a few questionable decisions. Down 22-9 midway through the third quarter, Bowles opted to kick the extra point, making the score 22-10, instead of going for the two-point conversion. His biggest gaffe, however, occurred with three minutes remaining in the game. Trailing by five points and armed with three timeouts, Bowles opted to go for it on 4th-and-4 from Buffalo’s 7-yard line. New York failed to convert a first down, deflating the home crowd and a defense that was played inspired football during the second half. Buffalo’s offense was able to kill the clock due to some strong, elusive carries by LeSean McCoy.

• For the first time this season, Devin Smith was forced into kick returning duties, but things did not go according to plan. Early in the second quarter, Smith fumbled away a kick off return and Buffalo returned it 19 yards for a touchdown. Smith made the mistake of returning a deep kick-off out of his own end zone and chose to run away from his blocks. Smith’s mistake spun momentum in Buffalo’s favor and proved to be one of the most noteworthy plays from this game.

• Tackling has become a major issue for New York’s defense. New York’s tacklers were routinely whiffing on tackles and each member of the defense missed at least one tackle. McCoy exacerbated New York’s tackling deficiency late in the fourth quarter by juking, side stepping, and evading defenders to pick up first downs and kill the clock.

Buffalo Bills

QB Tyrod Taylor, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 27 - 158 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 12 - 0
Taylor didn't cause the team to lose but he had a rough game. The first Bills' play of the game, he missed a free and clear Sammy Watkins. If he makes that throw, the Bills are up 7-0 very early on. Taylor did throw a few more poor balls but for most of the game his targets were short and relatively easy to make. In the pocket, Taylor never seemed to make the right choice. When he decided to stand tall, he was hit by the Jets and throws were missed because of it. When he decided to scramble or checkdown the ball, he sometimes had plenty of time to stay and throw. Taylor was spooked by the Jets' defensive line and it showed. When out of the pocket, Taylor was OK at throwing on the run but not great. And he made no big plays with his legs. Taylor's best play was one that will not show up on any score sheet. Deep in his own territory, the Jets were about to sack him. Rather than taking the sack or throwing the ball away and incurring an intentional grounding penalty, Taylor escaped from the pocket just far enough for him to throw the ball away without penalty. In a game where his physical skills were not on display, it was nice to see that Taylor still had the necessary presence of mind.

RB LeSean McCoy, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 112 - 0, Rec: 5 - 47 - 0 (5 targets)
In a game against the high-quality Jets' defensive line, McCoy rose to the challenge. Any semblance of his past injuries seems to be gone. All game McCoy was fast and had strong cuts; he knew where to go and had the athletic ability to get there. One of the highlights of the night for the Bills was on a 3rd and 2. McCoy was hit in the backfield about 5 yards back from the line of scrimmage. Instead of getting tackled, he stiff-armed the defender to the ground and converted the play to keep the drive alive. As Tyrod Taylor was uncomfortable in the pocket, McCoy was consistently available for outlet throws. And late in the game, when the Bills were trying to prevent the Jets from having a last attempt at scoring, McCoy took up large chunks of time with high-quality runs. The Bills running game is in good shape for the playoff push.

RB Karlos Williams, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 24 - 0, Rec: 1 - 26 - 1 (1 targets)
Williams took a backseat to McCoy but still managed to get himself on the scoreboard. His TD reception (and sole target) had him wide open in the center of the field with some fairly effective route running for a RB, cutting inside the defender sprung Williams free. Williams is only the second player in NFL history to score a TD in his first six games. If he can score next week as well, it will be for a NFL record first seven games in a row. In the running game, Williams was generally asked to run straight into the Jets' D-line. It did not tend to go well though the fault was not with Williams. He has the ability to be a starter but McCoy is starting to heat up.

WR Sammy Watkins, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 14 - 0 (7 targets)
Watkins' stats came back down this week but he still played decently well. On the Bills' first passing play of the game, Watkins beat Revis going deep down the middle of the field. A better throw from Tyrod Taylor and Watkins is probably running into the endzone. As it was, the Bills offense started off with an incompletion. Afterwards, Watkins put himself in a position to grab the football in the endzone against two defenders but a slightly errant throw by Taylor caused the play to finish out of bounds. Watkins won a route late in the game to convert a crucial third down on a pass. While Watkins did have a pass that hit him in the hands and then subsequently was almost intercepted, for the most part it was Taylor's passes that held Watkins back. If Taylor had connected on that very first throw, Watkins' stat line would look very different.

WR Robert Woods, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (7 targets)
Woods seems to have solidified himself as the WR2 of the Bills going forward. He received seven targets, tied with Watkins as most on the team. Late in the first half, Woods was involved in the Bills drive downfield to get a few more points. The last three plays were all passes to Woods, the first converted a 3rd down try and the third was a crucial 9-yard gain to get into FG range. Later on in the game, Woods got a step on a defender but Tyrod Taylor was hit while throwing and the ball fell harmlessly to the ground.

TE Charles Clay, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 52 - 0 (6 targets)
Clay was the most accomplished target in the passing game against the Jets. His targets were all short throws but Clay managed to run decently with the ball in his hands. His big 25-yard gain involved Clay rumbling downfield following blockers to put up some decent YAC. The one target that Clay did not turn into a reception was one where Taylor was hit while throwing. It's clear that Clay is the undisputed TE1 while Taylor is the QB but the offense has been too inconsistent for Clay to put up big numbers game after game.


New York Jets

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, 59 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 34 - 193 - 2 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 3 - 30 - 0
Ryan Fitzpatrick made some costly physical and mental mistakes that halted New York’s second half surge. Despite throwing two key second half touchdowns to Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, Fitzpatrick was unable to make game winning plays in the fourth quarter. Midway through the fourth quarter, Fitzpatrick was engineering a strong drive and had Buffalo’s defense on its heels. On a 3rd-and-3 play from Buffalo’s 6-yard line, Fitzpatrick audibled out of a designed run for Chris Ivory and called a pick play for Eric Decker. Jeff Cumberland was the designated ‘pick’, but bumped into Decker at the line of the scrimmage and Decker was tackled for a 1-yard loss. New York opted to go for it on fourth down, but Fitzpatrick made a curious decision to target back-up tight end, Kellen Davis on a pick play. Davis ran a corner route, but did not pivot his head around quickly enough and the ball landed in the back corner of the end zone. Credit Buffalo’s defense for disrupting Davis at the line of scrimmage, but question Fitzpatrick’s decision making on that play. Buffalo opted to double team Brandon Marshall, but the decision to target Davis was baffling.

Fitzpatrick was not limited by his thumb injury and took some shots down the field. His receivers, however, ran some sloppy routes. During a last ditch drive in the fourth quarter, Fitzpatrick was intercepted on a deep crossing route. Kenbrell Thompkins, who started and primary played as the third wide receiver, strung out his route, giving the defender an easy opportunity to intercept the pass. Fitzpatrick opted to have surgery on his thumb on Friday afternoon and will likely play next week against Houston.

RB Chris Ivory, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 99 - 0, Rec: 2 - 36 - 0 (3 targets)
From a pure production standpoint, Ivory had his best performance of the last month, but isn’t playing at the same level that he did at the start of the season. With Nick Mangold back in the fold, Ivory had more room to work, but still lacks some explosiveness. Ivory was able to generate yardage before contact, but had trouble slipping away from the first defender. Ball control has also become a bugaboo for Ivory. Early in the third quarter, Bacarri Rambo, who had a great day, stripped the football away. Ivory has had some ball control issues that he’ll look to rectify over the next week.

RB Stevan Ridley, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - -1 - 0
Back-up running back, Zac Stacy fractured his ankle during a kick-off return, so Ridley slid into the back-up running back role. Ridley looked rusty and had trouble getting into a rhythm during a limited number of snaps.

WR Eric Decker, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 85 - 1 (11 targets)
Another week, another solid performance for Eric Decker. Brandon Marshall was the focal point of Buffalo’s defense, but drops and mental mistakes limited his impact. Decker became the preferred option of Fitzpatrick by making tough catches over the middle of the field. Midway through the fourth quarter, Fitzpatrick found Decker streaking down the seam for a 31-yard touchdown. Decker was easily able to get behind the defense and hauled in Fitzpatrick’s strong throw to finish the scoring play. A few plays earlier, Decker converted on a key fourth down play by running a deep drag route and securing a 19-yard grab. New York had its chances to sneak away with a win, but Fitzpatrick audibled out of some designed runs and targeted Decker on pick plays. Decker was the targeted receiver on the first pick play, but his designated ‘pick’ player was unable to secure his block. A better effort from the pick player results in Decker’s second touchdown.

WR Brandon Marshall, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 23 - 1 (10 targets)
Simply put, Brandon Marshall played his worst game of the season. Buffalo rolled its coverage to Marshall, but his timing with Fitzpatrick was off. Early in the first half, Marshall ran an incorrect route and Fitzpatrick was intercepted. Marshall also dropped several passes and seemed mentally checked out at times, but saved his outing with an easy 14-yard touchdown grab during the third quarter. Marshall injured his left ankle late in the fourth quarter and hobbled off, but was able to return to the game. Marshall’s touchdown prowess saved a relatively bad outing. Overall, Marshall is making too many mental and physical mistakes at this point in the season.

WR Devin Smith, 1 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 22 - 0 (1 targets)
Devin Smith played a limited number of snaps on offense, but his miscue on special teams ultimately cost his team a victory. Kenbrell Thompkins suffered an early injury and was unable to return kick-offs. Smith was asked to fill in for Thompkins and the results were disastrous. Early in the second quarter, Smith fumbled and Buffalo returned it 19 yards for a touchdown. Smith made the mistake of returning a deep kick-off out of his own end zone and chose to run away from his blocks. Smith’s mistake spun momentum in Buffalo’s favor and was one of the key plays that swung the outcome of the game.

WR Jeremy Kerley, 9 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (3 targets)
Jeremy Kerley made one catch on a short slant route, but otherwise, did not make an impact. Kerley returned punts on special teams.

WR Kenbrell Thompkins, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (4 targets)
Kenbrell Thompkins started the game in three wide receiver sets, but failed to make an impact. Thompkins suffered an injury early in the first quarter and virtually disappeared.