Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson extended his team record for 1,000-yard seasons by surpassing that number for the third straight year in the finale Sunday against the New York Jets.
Johnson finished with six catches for 111 yards in the 28-9 win at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
“That was big,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “We want to go in and win the game. I was very conscious of that going into the game, though, in terms of Stevie and the 65 yards [he needed to reach 1,000].
“He’s just been a guy that’s been great for me just in terms of coming up to make the big plays.”
Johnson did it again Sunday on the catch that got him over the magic number. His 37-yard reception down the right sideline early in the fourth quarter set up the Bills deep in New York territory. Six plays later, the Bills scored a touchdown to open a 21-9 lead.
“[Sunday] was one of those times where we just meshed with each other as far as offense, defense and special teams,” Johnson said. “I guess it just takes time. Hopefully everything will come back next year and we end up how we did this game.”
The Bills will pick eighth overall in April’s NFL draft.
The Bills finished with a 6-10 record, matching the Jets and Titans. Buffalo’s strength of schedule, however, was easier than both New York’s and Tennessee’s, hence the Bills pick earlier.
Had the Bills lost to New York, they would have picked sixth overall. Buffalo could have picked as high as fourth coming into the day, but losses by Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland and Arizona left them with fewer wins than Buffalo and picks 4-7, respectively.
“As a player, you want to go win whenever you’re out on the field,” center Eric Wood said. “We don’t play for draft position. Whoever may be rooting for whatever pick in the draft, a little bit more momentum going into the offseason, a little bit better feeling probably helps us a little more than a couple extra spots in the draft. I could be totally wrong. Maybe we miss out on the next Andrew Luck or Adrian Peterson because of it, but as a player you go out to win games.”
The Bills also finished last in the AFC East, despite matching the Jets with a 6-10 record. The teams split the first and second tiebreakers, head-to-head record and division record (each finished 2-4), but the Jets went 5-7 in common games, which is the third tiebreaker. The Bills went 3-9.
That means the 2013 home-and-away schedule is set. Aside from the AFC East, the Bills will play home games against Baltimore, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Atlanta and Carolina. They will travel to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and New Orleans.
Linebacker Bryan Scott’s interception return for a touchdown was the first defensive score of the season for the Bills.
“Basically it was a three-man zone,” Scott said. “[Jets quarterback Mark] Sanchez kind of just led me to that route. ... He does have a tendency to look at his receivers.”
Scott, who scored his third career touchdown, finished second on the Bills in 2012 with four interceptions. He’s set to become an unrestricted free agent in March.
“This city, this organization has meant so much to me,” he said. “Seeing the resiliency of these guys, I know we’ve been through a lot up and down. It does kind of hit home a little bit to think, ‘Wow, this might be it.’ ”
Receiver Brad Smith lined up in the backfield on six plays. One was an 8-yard pass reception on which he shielded linebacker Calvin Pace. Another was a 12-yard catch. He said he’s not looking to take fullback Corey McIntyre’s job.
“It’s something we’ve been doing the last few weeks, putting a receiver in the backfield. I think I’ve got to get one of those [tight end] Lee Smith facemasks,” Brad Smith said.
The Bills also used Smith in two Wildcat plays against his former team with great success. He had a 4-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter out of the formation, then later added a 16-yard run.
“We just try to come in and try to execute each play just like any other play,” he said.
The Bills played Sunday with a decal on their helmets honoring Lt. Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka – members of the West Webster Fire Department – who were killed on Christmas Eve by a lone gunman when responding to a call.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of the brave heroes from the West Webster Fire Department,” Bills CEO Russ Brandon said in a statement.
The team also held a moment of silence prior to kickoff.
Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was inactive again Sunday, a status he held for every game this season. Also inactive for the Bills were defensive end Mark Anderson (knee), safety Da’Norris Searcy (groin), and healthy players Jay Ross, Chris Scott, Keith Williams and Kevin Elliott.