The Jets were outplayed, out-coached and out-everything-ed in an embarrassing 27-17 season-opening loss to the Bills on Sunday. Gang Green was a disjointed mess when it mattered, prompting the same three words from critics: Same Ol’ Gase.
Adam Gase’s offense sleepwalked through much of the afternoon in an empty Bills Stadium, sputtering and stumbling for the better part of four quarters against their division rivals.
Head-scratching decisions, curious play-calls and poor execution highlighted a nightmarish lid-lifter for a team for a star-crossed franchise hoping to snap the NFL’s third longest playoff drought.
The Jets, franky, didn’t belong on the same field as the Bills, who raced out to a 21-0 first-half lead and never looked back.
Josh Allen torched carved up the Jets with his arms and feet. He picked on a maligned secondary for a career-high 312 yards and two touchdowns along with 59 rushing yards and a rushing score. The carnage would have been worse for Gase’s club if not Allen’s pair of lost fumbles in the red zone.
The defense was hardly the only culprit. Sam Darnold & Co. did a whole lot of nothing other than a 69-yard catch and run for a touchdown by Jamison Crowder in the third quarter. Gang Green added a window-dressing score from Josh Adams in the final minute. But the game was long since decided.
Sam Darnold, who lost Le’Veon Bell (6 carries, 14 yards) to a hamstring injury in the third quarter, went 21-for-35 for 215 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 75.3 passer rating.
The Bills failed to extend their 21-3 halftime lead when rookie kicker Tyler Bass missed a 38-yard field goal on Buffalo’s second drive of the third quarter. Replays indicated that the Bass might have actually snuck the ball inside the uprights. But the play was not reviewable because the ball was above the goalpost.
The Jets capitalized less than a minute later when Sam Darnold and Jamison Crowder hooked up for a 69-yard catch and run for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 21-10 with 5:10 left in the third quarter. Crowder took a quick out on 3rd and 7 and slipped a few defenders before running free for the score.
The Jets had life after sleep-walking through much of the first half. The Bills marched into the red zone on the ensuing drive, but Bass missed another field goal — a 34-yarder — to swing momentum back to the Jets entering the fourth quarter even though Le’Veon Bell was shelved for the rest of the game with a hamstring injury.
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Then, disaster struck.
Chris Herndon’s fumble after catching a screen pass less than a minute into the fourth quarter proved costly. Jordan Poyer stripped Herndon before the Bills recovered at the Jets 38-yard line. Gang Green caught a break when Allen missed a wide-open John Brown in the endzone on the ensuing drive.
Bass’ 22-yard field goal put the Jets in a 24-10 hole less than five minutes into the fourth quarter.
Allen carved up the Jets with his arms and feet to put Gang Green in a 21-3 halftime hole. The first-half carnage would have been worse if the Bills’ signal caller hadn’t lost a pair of fumbles in the red zone.
Allen had three total touchdowns and completed 20 passes before intermission to blitz the Jets.
The Jets, who lost their two best defensive players (Jamal Adams and C.J. Mosley) this offseason, had no answers for the athletic Allen. The Jets didn’t generate consistent pressure. Their secondary also had their fair share of struggles. Projected No. 1 cornerback Pierre Desir was benched in the second quarter after a litany of blunders that contributed to his team falling behind early.
It was all Allen all the time for much of the first half. He struck first blood by orchestrating a 7-play scoring drive in the first quarter capped off by his two-year touchdown run. The Jets gift-wrapped that score after Desire was flagged for holding in the end zone on third down to extend the drive.
Allen then used Desir’s 33-yard pass interference on Buffalo’s next possession to extend the lead. He scrambled for 16 yards and hooked up with John Brown for 20 more before finding rookie Zach Moss for a four-year touchdown to make it 14-0 in the opening quarter.
The Bills out-gained Gang Green, 123-12, in the first half before things got worse for Adam Gase’s club. Allen hooked up with Brown on a 17-yard screen for a score to make it 21-0 midway through the second quarter.
Sam Darnold’s ill-advised decision to throw across his body on the run into traffic was easily picked off, but it didn’t cost the Jets. Allen lost his second fumble of the first half on Buffalo’s ensuing drive as they were marching in for another score. The Jets took over at their own 12-yard line before Darnold showed signs of life. He made a perfect sideline pass to Le’Veon Bell for a 30-yard pickup before escaping pressure and hooking up with Jamison Crowder for a 21-yard gain.
Sam Ficken’s 31-yard field goal as time expired made it 21-3 at halftime. The Jets gained just 102 yards before intermission. Gang Green had more penalties (six) than first downs (five) in the first half.
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