» Grading the Bills
D Fred Jackson gained 59 yards on a terrific second-effort run late in the first quarter. Take away that play, which led to a field goal, and the Bills’ ground attack was weak. C.J. Spiller ran 10 times for 9 yards before leaving the game with a knee injury. Jackson’s other six carries gained 13 yards. The Bills were irrelevant when trying to run in the red zone, a major factor in their scoring four field goals instead of touchdowns.
D+ EJ Manuel had been sacked once and hit eight times in his first two games. The Jets mauled him Sunday. The Bills yielded eight sacks, tied for 10th-most in team history. Manuel was hit 16 times. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes for 243 yards but did have a nice connection with tight end Scott Chandler for a 33-yard touchdown and threw for the two-point conversion.
D+ Bilal Powell joined a long list of opposing running backs who’ve had career games against the Bills in recent years. The run defense hasn’t shown many signs of improving. The New England Patriots plowed through them on opening day, and the Jets had their way with the Bills, too. Powell had runs of 27, 21 and 14 yards in the second half.
F The Jets averaged 11.4 yards per pass attempt and completed a gob of long balls, mostly over cornerback Justin Rogers’ head. Geno Smith threw touchdown passes of 51 and 69 yards. He converted a third-and-17 situation on the opening drive, which ended with a touchdown, and later converted a third-and-13. Helpful was a lack of pressure. The Bills didn’t sack Smith and hit him just twice.
B+ Dan Carpenter made his field goal attempts from 37, 23, 43 and 26 yards and recorded three touchbacks on his six kickoffs. Shawn Powell averaged 51 yards and netted 39.9 yards on seven punts. Powell had a 66-yard punt that bounced into the end zone, but three landed inside the Jets’ 15-yard line. Jim Leonhard replaced injured punt returner Leodis McKelvin but admitted he was rusty.
D For my NFL Sunday story on penalties. Oakland Raiders great Stevie Wisniewski told me analytics show it’s virtually impossible for a team to win if it gives up 40 or more yards in penalties than its opponent and is minus-two in turnovers. The Bills had 81 fewer penalty yards and two takeaways. The Bills should have won, but they got destroyed in every other facet of the game.
» Grading the Jets
A- While most will fawn over Geno Smith’s performance, Bilal Powell logged the best game of his career. Powell’s top previous output was 78 yards last year. He entered Sunday with 77 yards through the first two games. He hit triple digits by the third quarter and finished with 149 yards. Smith also ran 8 yards for the game’s first touchdown.
B+ Smith threw a pair of interceptions but otherwise was fantastic in the first installment of his rivalry with Manuel. Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill each gained over 100 yards, averaged more than 30 yards a reception and scored a touchdown. The Jets’ offensive line kept Smith clean the entire game. Mario Williams drew a holding penalty but didn’t touch Smith. The Jets passed for 11 of their first downs.
A The Jets stopped the Bills behind the line of scrimmage six times on run plays. Jets linebacker David Harris recorded three tackles for losses. The Jets forced a pair of Spiller fumbles, although they didn’t recover either of them. The Bills ran for only four rushing first downs, with Manuel gaining one on a 19-yard bootleg.
B+ Coverage wasn’t phenomenal, but the pass rush made all the difference. Seven different Jets recorded sacks, with defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson collecting a pair. Ten Jets registered at least one QB hit, with Wilkerson notching a game-high five of them. Nose tackle Damon Harrison was the only starter among the front seven not to hit Manuel. Two Jets defensive backs got him, too.
A- With 21 seconds left in the game, punter Ryan Quigley, making his NFL debut, pinned the Bills on the 1-yard line with a finely covered 40-yard punt. The Jets allowed a measly 20 total return yards on seven punts and five kickoffs. Nick Folk made field goals of 47 and 34 yards.
D- Rex Ryan was lucky to win. Twenty penalties? My word. Ryan also failed on a pair of challenges within the span of 14 seconds in the third quarter, forfeiting the chance to challenge for the rest of the game. When Manuel fumbled in the fourth quarter but officials ruled him down, Ryan had no recourse to get the play overturned.