GRADING THE BILLS
Running game: B+
Bills fans have wanted to see C.J. Spiller handle a heavy workload and finally got the chance in the finale. Spiller had a career-high 24 carries for only 59 yards with the Jets keying on him. Tashard Choice had a 13-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Even the Wildcat worked. Brad Smith scored a 4-yard touchdown and ran 16 yards to convert a third-and-9 in the fourth quarter.
Passing game: B
Spiller’s career-long 66-yard touchdown reception salvaged an otherwise miserable first half. Ryan Fitzpatrick completed two of his other 10 passes for 40 yards. But he went 9 of 15 for 119 yards in the second half. Stevie Johnson caught six passes for 111 yards and broke the 1,000-yard barrier for a third straight season. The Jets didn’t sack Fitzpatrick, but hit him four times.
Run defense: D+
The Jets trampled the Bills in the first half, running on 28 of their 43 plays and amassing 119 yards. Down on the scoreboard, the Jets had to throw more after halftime and finished with only 133 rushing yards and a 3.7 average. Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell combined for 31 carries and 130 yards. The Bills stiffened all three times the Jets got into the red zone and forced field goals.
Pass defense: B+
Buffalo’s secondary was helped by Mark Sanchez’s usually erratic play. Linebacker Bryan Scott returned a first-quarter interception 20 yards for their only defensive touchdown of the season. Spencer Johnson had a strip sack in the third quarter. The Bills were embarrassed on a second-quarter screen Jeremy Kerley took 40 yards on a third-and-16 play.
Special teams: D
Rian Lindell missed field-goal attempts from 50 and 46 yards in the third quarter, keeping the game in jeopardy longer than it should’ve been. Buffalo’s knack for blocking kicks continued, with Marcell Dareus deflecting a Nick Folk attempt in the third quarter. Alex Carrington got his hand on another one in the second quarter, but it still went through the uprights. Coverage units forced two fumbles.
With nothing to play for and with Chan Gailey likely coaching his last Bills game, his men dominated a team that didn’t have much interest in playing Sunday. Everything clicked for the Bills. The offense, defense and special teams each made big plays. The Bills also were the more disciplined team a week after looking anything but. Dave Wannstedt’s defense adjusted well at halftime for a change.
GRADING THE JETS
Running game: B
The Jets were dominant early in the game and then gravitated more toward an aerial attack in the second half. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano opened with nine straight running plays, driving 47 yards in 5:55 to kick a field goal. In the first half, the Jets ran for eight first downs and had the ball for an astounding 23:15. But they didn’t run for another first down the rest of the game.
Passing game: D-
The Jets didn’t have tight end Dustin Keller or receiver Chaz Schilens again. They happen to be tied for second-most receptions on the team with a meager 28 apiece. But a limited supporting cast has hampered Sanchez all season. Sanchez was scattershot, throwing the pick-six to Scott and completing less than half his passes. When he needed to throw late, the Jets stood little chance.
Run defense: B
The Jets stopped Spiller better than any other defense this year, forcing him to the outside and doing a fine job in pursuit. Spiller’s 2.5-yard average was a season-low and his worst since before Fred Jackson got hurt in Week 11 last year. The Bills had only five rushing first downs. But in the fourth quarter, the Jets couldn’t stop old friend Smith in the Wildcat and let Choice score from 13 yards out.
Pass defense: C-
Top cornerback Antonio Cromartie had his hands full with Johnson, who caught six of the nine passes thrown his way and averaged 18.5 yards a reception. The Jets also got torched by Spiller’s long touchdown. But they held Fitzpatrick to 46 percent completions and didn’t allow anybody other than Johnson to catch more than two passes. The Jets failed to generate much pressure.
Special teams: C-
Venerable special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff certainly didn’t want to go out this way. Sunday was his final game. Dareus (blocked) and Alex Carrington (barely made it over the goal post) got their hands on two of Nick Folk’s four field-goal attempts. Kickoff returners Joe McKnight and Nick Bellore had a fumble apiece. Two of Robert Malone’s four punts were touchbacks.
Rex Ryan’s team didn’t look like it had any interest in beating the Bills. The Jets ran with a purpose at the start of the game but after Scott returned Sanchez’s interception for a touchdown, the Jets all but packed it in. Every phase of the game produced an uninspired, substandard performance.