This tightly contested AFC East battle was a game both teams had to win and it ended up going down to the wire. In a game that featured more than its fair share of sloppy play, Mark Sanchez overcame a shaky start to lead the Jets downfield and throw the winning touchdown with 61 seconds to go. Having given up a game winning 95-yard drive in their previous game, this time the Jets defense just about held up to preserve the win.
In the month since seemingly every analyst on the planet was hailing the Bills as “for real”, they’ve lost four straight games, including two to the Jets. However, this was the first time they’ve remained competitive into the fourth quarter, so they’ll be looking to build on this as their focus inevitably shifts to next season. The Jets, having reversed the losing trend from the last fortnight, simply have to keep winning to stay in the postseason race.
As well as the sloppy play, there were also some impact performances, so let’s take a look at some from either category:
Buffalo – Three Performances of Note
Fitz the Ball Into Tight Windows
With their running game stifled all afternoon in the absence of Fred Jackson, the Bills had to rely on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (+6.2) to move the chains. He reacted to the Jets’ blitz packages particularly well, completing 7-of-9 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown when blitzed, but what was most impressive about Fitzpatrick’s performance was his accuracy. On a number of occasions, the throw had to be perfect to be completed and was. Unfortunately for Fitzpatrick, his accuracy deserted him when it mattered most, as he threw behind an open Stevie Johnson in the endzone with eight seconds remaining. Despite this, Fitzpatrick accounted for 264 yards through the air and another 34 on the ground and certainly looked more like a $59 million dollar man than he has in recent weeks.
One thing we like to remind people of on this site is that the job of a TE doesn’t just entail catching the ball. On the face of it, Scott Chandler (-3.0) had a pretty good performance, catching six passes for 50 yards to move into the Top 20 for catches by tight ends. However, if you look beyond the boxscore, he really let down his team with his inconsistent blocking. On one play in the red zone late in the first quarter, he pulled left, but let David Harris beat him inside to stuff a run for a short gain. Later on in the first half, he let Aaron Maybin beat him for a sack on third down. His blocking has been poor for most of the season, which is why he’s in the Bottom 20 of our overall tight end rankings.
The Rookie Wall?
One player that was coming into his own while the Bills were clicking was rookie defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (-1.6). However, he’s struggled over the course of their four game losing streak and posted his fourth consecutive negative grade on Sunday. Facing Nick Mangold twice over that span can’t have done much for his confidence and once again, Mangold got the better of their matchup here. On a day when the Bills struggled to generate any pressure, Dareus did have a couple of pressures and also beat Matt Slauson once to get to Sanchez. Unfortunately, that play was wasted as he was flagged for helmet-to-helmet contact, one of two penalties on him on the day. The good news is that he won’t face Mangold again this season, so he’ll be looking to cut out the rookie mistakes and start posting some dominant performances again.
New York – Three Performances of Note
When the Bills cut first round bust Aaron Maybin (+2.2) back in August, they can’t have expected it to come back to haunt them like this. On Sunday, Maybin had two sacks and three pressures in 28 pass rush attempts and – after leaving the Bills with no sacks in two seasons – he now has five sacks in just 110 snaps. That’s an average of one every 22 snaps, the best sack rate in the NFL for any player with five sacks or more. Most of the pressure he generates is a product of his relentlessness, which even helped him to make a play in coverage on Sunday, as he hustled across the field to make a tackle for a loss on a pass into the flat. His grade would have been much higher if he hadn’t been flagged for two penalties, although one of those was offset by another penalty anyway. Having only used him for eight snaps in total during their recent two game losing streak, the Jets need to ensure Maybin gets on the field more often, because he’s playing like one of the best situational rushers in the game right now.
Moving the Island
Darrelle Revis (+1.3) definitely had his hands full with Stevie Johnson, who caught eight passes for 75 yards. However, only one of these went for a first down, as Revis was often playing off Johnson and did a good job of limiting any yards after the catch, which explains why Revis, who was targeted 13 times for 77 yards, was still able to post a positive grade in coverage. Johnson has 11 of the 24 catches and over 45% of the total yardage against Revis this year and is the first player to have beaten him for a touchdown. On the last drive, Johnson had a couple of chances to potentially win the game, but it was actually safety Brodney Pool – not Revis – that lost Johnson in zone coverage twice, only to be rescued by Johnson’s hands. After giving up just four catches for 42 yards in the first five games, Revis has given up 20 for 306 over the last six, so it will be interesting to see whether teams continue to target him down the stretch.
Holmes Has Last Laugh
When they signed him to a contract for $10 million per year this offseason, the Jets were surely anticipating more statistical production from Santonio Holmes (-3.2), who has yet to surpass 500 receiving yards this season. However, Holmes’ penchant for late-game heroics was one of the reasons they decided to pay him that much and on Sunday he had the game-winning touchdown catch with 61 seconds remaining. Prior to that, Holmes had only one catch despite being thrown to eight times, although he did rush for 28 yards on two carries. Although none of them were routine, he dropped three passes – his first of the year – and also appeared to run the wrong route on a vital third down in the fourth quarter. Maybe the winning touchdown – his third as a Jet – is a positive sign, but Holmes is one guy that needs to step it up for the Jets to remain in the postseason hunt.
- Despite an uneven performance, Sanchez, whose numbers when pressured are among the worst in the league, completed 4-of-5 passes for 40 yards and a touchdown when under pressure.
- The teams combined for just three missed tackles, but the Jets were still able to average six yards per carry on the ground. The Bills didn’t fare quite so well, with their running backs held to 47 yards on 21 carries.
- Former Jet Brad Smith, who entered the game with 78 receiving yards on the season, played 76 of 77 snaps and had four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown.
PFF Game Ball
In a game that featured several good performances, but no real standouts, Aaron Maybin had more of an impact than anyone with his constant threat of pressure a thorn in the side of his former teammates.
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