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


What you need to know

New York Jets

The New York Jets finished their season with a 10-6 record after suffering a 22-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. New York’s loss, coupled with Pittsburgh’s victory, knocked the Jets out of the playoffs. The story of the game was the dismal play of Ryan Fitzpatrick; Fitzpatrick, who only threw one interception over his last five games, threw three, fourth quarter interceptions. Fitzpatrick’s first interception proved to be a fatal blow as Fitzpatrick underthrew Eric Decker on a corner route in the end zone. A better pass would have resulted in a touchdown to give New York its first lead of the game. Right before the two minute warning, Fitzpatrick was hit by Marcell Dareus just as he threw and the pass was intercepted by Manny Lawson. Fitzpatrick had one last chance at redemption, but his final pass was intercepted by AJ Tarpley to seal a Buffalo victory. During New York’s last drive of the game, Fitzpatrick threw a 50-yard bomb to Kembrell Thompkins. Fitzpatrick hit Thompkins in stride deep down the right sideline, but a Buffalo defender made a last ditch effort and dislodged the ball. If Thompkins holds on, he easily races into the end zone for the game winning touchdown.

Outside of Fitzpatrick, New York’s ground game failed to develop a rhythm. Bilal Powell (ankle) was inactive—and New York’s offense sputtered without him. Stevan Ridley and Chris Ivory alternated carries, but neither player was able to the void left behind by Powell.

On the other side of the ball, Darrelle Revis lost his one-on-one match-up against Sammy Watkins. Revis gave Watkins a fairly sizable cushion, but Watkins was still able to get behind Revis. Watkins used his agility to make quick cuts in and out of his routes to beat Revis in one-on-one situations. Watkins is one of a few talented receivers to beat Revis in one-on-one match-ups this season, leaving fans to wonder whether Revis can still hold his own against the NFL’s top wide receivers.

As a side note, Mohammed Wilkerson, an impending free agent, broke his leg in the third quarter. His presence was sorely missed.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills once again end their season with a middling record. But things are looking up in their offense. Rex Ryan is an experienced HC, Tyrod Taylor is competent enough to not lose games and is exciting enough to sometimes win them, Sammy Watkins is slowly growing into the stud he can be, LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams form a lethal 1-2 punch, and Charles Clay is a decent-to-good TE. The Bills were hit with a lot of injuries and if they can improve their roster depth, they should be competitive for a Wild Card spot.

New York Jets

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, 57 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 37 - 181 - 2 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 2 - 12 - 0
The loss is directly attributable to the poor play of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who turned in a forgettable three interception performance. Two major factors, the wind and Buffalo’s pass rush, had a direct impact on his performance. New York’s offensive line had trouble slowing down Buffalo’s talented array of pass rushers. The wind, on the other hand, made downfield passing even harder for Fitzpatrick, who struggled all season with the deep ball. Fitzpatrick also threw three, fourth quarter interceptions that sealed his team’s fate. Midway through the fourth quarter, Fitzpatrick targeted Decker on a corner route, but underthrew him and the pass was intercepted by Leodis McKelvin. Fitzpatrick threw his third and final interceptions with just 20 seconds remaining. Fitzpatrick targeted Decker on a crossing route, but the ball was underthrown and intercepted to end the game.

Fitzpatrick did throw two more touchdown passes to Marshall and Decker, but a third scoring strike would have resulted in a playoff berth.

Overall, it was a forgettable performance by Fitzpatrick in New York’s biggest game of the last five seasons. Fitzpatrick, an impending free agent, had a great season and will have some leverage in his contract negotiations.

RB Stevan Ridley, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 29 - 0, Rec: 2 - 0 - 0 (2 targets)
By virtue of some injuries to his team mates, Stevan Ridley earned his first start in over a year. The results, however, were not encouraging. Over the course of the regular season, Buffalo’s run defense has deteriorated, but Ridley had trouble developing a rhythm in the first half. Due to game flow, New York abandoned the run during the second half.

RB Chris Ivory, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 81 - 0
Chris Ivory, who was suffering from a minor knee injury, was used sparingly throughout the game. Stevan Ridley started the game and served as New York’s early-down running back while Ivory came on in third downs. Ivory was largely contained, but ripped off a 58-yard run during the third quarter to surpass the 1,000-yard mark. New York trailed for the entire game and ultimately decided to abandon running the ball during the fourth quarter, so Ivory’s opportunities were limited. Alike Fitzpatrick, Ivory is an impending free agent who is coming off a career year.

WR Brandon Marshall, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 126 - 1 (16 targets)
Brandon Marshall finished his 2015 campaign with another big performance against Buffalo’s suspect secondary. When Fitzpatrick needed to make a big play, Marshall was targeted and more times than not, Marshall came through with a big play. Early in the second quarter, Fitzpatrick and Marshall hooked up for a 17-yard pitch and catch on a corner route. It’s a scoring play that we’ve seen week-after-week that defenses simply don’t have an answer for. Overall, Fitzpatrick struggled throughout the game and had several chances to find Marshall for big plays, but the throws were simply off target. After being discarded by Chicago, Marshall had a career year and will look to build upon it in 2016.

WR Eric Decker, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 50 - 1 (9 targets)
Eric Decker finished off his season in fitting fashion—by catching another touchdown pass. Decker secured his 12th touchdown grab in the third quarter. Decker ran a deep post route, slightly pushed off of his defender, and ran free for a 27-yard touchdown. Outside of this scoring play, Buffalo’s secondary held Decker in check. Fitzpatrick struggled for the majority of the game and his pass catchers ultimately suffered.

WR Quincy Enunwa, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (4 targets)
Quincy Enunwa was used sparingly throughout the game, but saw some snaps as New York’s H-Back. Enunwa had a few opportunities to make plays, but was plagued by some costly drops. During the second quarter, on a 3rd-and-8 play in the red zone, Enunwa dropped an easy-to-catch shovel pass that would have resulted in a first down. New York settled for a field goal, but Enunwa’s drop was costly.


Buffalo Bills

QB Tyrod Taylor, 75 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 28 - 182 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 10 - 51 - 1
Taylor started off the game not with a bang, but a whimper. His first pass was a short throw into the dirt. His second hit the receiver in the hands and fell harmlessly. His third was overthrown and would have been intercepted if Chris Hogan had not committed an offensive pass interference penalty. The first series was his worst but Taylor still did not play great over the course of the game. Taylor put decent balls in the vicinity of Sammy Watkins and Watkins was able to grab them through his own ability. Admittedly, having your best WR tangled up with Revis is not going to help your day but it was much more of the "Sammy Watkins passing attack" than the "Tyrod Taylor passing attack". As Taylor does, he won this game with his feet. The Jets' defense keep breaking the Bills' offensive line and Taylor salvaged most of those plays with his escape ability. Most critically, on a third and 3 he scrambled for an 18-yard TD.

The Taylor of the end of the season was much closer to preseason expectations than the Taylor that initially showed up. He is an extremely quick and savvy runner, he can throw pretty deep balls occasionally, and he doesn't tend to make very stupid mistakes. On a team with no QB talent behind him, Taylor is the undisputed best option and would probably be so compared to the free agent market as well. But a QB falling in the draft could make Buffalo stop for a moment and think.

RB Mike Gillislee, 48 offensive snaps, Rush: 24 - 28 - 0 (1 targets)
Gillislee has performed well in his role as supplemental RB with the LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams injuries. However, against the New York Jets his numbers came back down to earth. The Jets were consistently in the Bills backfield and stopping Gillislee short of the line of scrimmage. When there were small holes Gillislee was occasionally able to capitalize but for the most part he was taken down quickly. He is the third RB on the depth chart but his strong running when needed should solidify him a roster spot for 2016.

RB Karlos Williams, 15 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 24 - 1, Rec: 3 - 3 - 0 (3 targets)
In the first half against the Jets, Williams was his usual bulldozer self. On a third and 2, he was first stopped two yards short but kept pushing the would-be tacklers backward. The play-by-play will show a 3-yard gain and a first down but that does not reflect the immense effort involved. Unfortunately, Williams' bruising style can bruise himself in turn. He missed games earlier in the season due to injury and in this game pulled up with a gimpy leg after hurdling a defender to convert a first down. On a fourth and 1 on the 2-yard line, Williams was given the ball and stopped by a Jet short of the endzone. Williams churned his legs as he often does and punched through for the TD. It was a pyrrhic victory; he did not return to the game after the play because of a knee injury gained during it. Williams is the clear choice for LeSean McCoy's backup and should remain as such next year.

WR Sammy Watkins, 69 offensive snaps, Rec: 11 - 136 - 0 (15 targets)
Watkins is getting the reps that he asked for earlier in the year. His 15 targets and 11 receptions were both career highs for him. Tightly covered by Revis for most of the game, Watkins was still able to make plays. And when the Jets decided to cover Watkins with a LB, it was a mistake. Watkins finished the game with 55% of his team's targets, 61% of the receptions, and 75% of the receiving yards. Watkins' biggest gain of the day was actually on a bobbled catch. As he initially caught the ball and turned, the ball flew up and out of his arms. He juggled the ball while running at high speed but hauled it back in and kept galloping for 38 yards. Watkins had a strong second year and should continue to grow as a player. Beyond him, the Bills will not be carrying a lot of WR talent into 2016. If the depth chart remains relatively unchanged, there will be a large gap between Watkins and the #2 WR at the start of next season.

WR Greg Salas, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 41 - 0 (5 targets)
Signed right before Christmas, Salas had his first game as a Bill in the last game of the season. Tyrod Taylor had to throw the ball to someone other than Sammy Watkins and Salas stepped up instead of Chris Hogan. Picking Salas up was clearly an end-of-season roster move to see if there is any potential in him.

WR Chris Hogan, 62 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (3 targets)
Ostensibly the #2 receiver for the Bills heading into the game, Hogan was out-targeted by newcomer Greg Salas. His two plays of consequence were an offensive pass interference while running after an overthrown ball to prevent an interception (there was no flag on the play) and an aborted throw via a fleaflicker that turned into a running gain of a few yards. Hogan will be a RFA in the upcoming offseason but his play has not warranted a big new contract.

TE Chris Gragg, 35 offensive snaps
Gragg had a key block on Tyrod Taylor's TD run but was part of a TE group that received no targets in 28 throws. He will not be challenging Charles Clay for the primary TE spot in 2016.