A column by CHUCK POLLOCK, Senior Sports Columnist
It’s risky to conclude that the Bills manhandled the Jets, 32-6, Sunday afternoon at Highmark Stadium, because they changed offensive coordinators.
After all, New York is the third-lowest scoring team in the NFL and its quarterback, Zach Wilson, is the lowest-rated of the current 32 starters in the league.
Who’s to say that former OC Ken Dorsey, fired last Tuesday, wouldn’t have had similar success.
He might have, but what’s certain is, Joe Brady, the former quarterback coach, had a glittering inaugural as Buffalo’s offensive coordinator.
In the short term, the Bills earned a “gotta have it” victory, improving to 6-5 and keeping alive their slim chances of earning a playoff berth, considering their next two games are on the road against last season’s Super Bowl participants — Philadelphia and Kansas City. And three of the last four are at home against Dallas and at the Chargers and Dolphins.
Still, Buffalo might have benefited from the disastrous injury incurred by the Bengals who lost elite quarterback Joe Burrow for the season to a wrist injury.
Cincinnati’s playoff odds got a lot longer behind a backup quarterback and the Chargers’ loss at Green Bay was hurtful, dropping them to 4-6. But the Broncos are still lurking with the advantage of a head-to-head win over Buffalo.
Currently, seven AFC teams are already in playoff position, if the season ended today, with Buffalo eighth, but also facing the toughest final schedule of any NFL team.
Nonetheless, the Bills’ outlook is decidedly better than after last Monday’s embarrassing loss to Denver in Orchard Park.
START with quarterback Josh Allen, who looked much more like he did when he led Buffalo to thrashings of the Raiders, Commanders and Dolphins in Games 2 through 4 when the Bills averaged 41 points per.
He finished 20 of 32 passing for 275 yards with three touchdown passes, a forgivable interception on a Hail May at the end of the first half, one meaningless sack and a solid
108.2 passer rating.
But here’s the shocker.
Allen’s three TD tosses gave him 206 total touchdowns — throwing, rushing and receiving — in his first six seasons, eclipsing the mark held by Patrick Mahomes, and he still has six regular-season games to play.
He leads the NFL with 22 touchdown passes, but also tops the league with 12 interceptions. And that leads to the stat that haunts him. Since he joined the league in 2018, he’s turned the ball over 95 times — 72 interceptions, 23 fumbles — the most of any NFL player over that span.
OTHER NOTES from the Bills’ keep-the-season-alive victory:
— In a bizarre play late in the second quarter, the Bills lost two starting defenders. Safety Taylor Rapp went down after a tackle and was put on a gurney and taken away in an ambulance as far as the locker room where he was diagnosed with a neck injury. On the same tackle, nickel back Taron Johnson also went down but got to his feet and walked directly up the tunnel and was revealed to have had a concussion..
Earlier in the game, Bills cornerback Dane Jackson collided helmet-to-helmet with Jets’ tight end Jeremy Ruckert and also left the game with a concussion.
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— Cornerback Rasul Douglas, acquired in a trade with Green Bay on Oct. 31, was the defensive star, intercepting Jets’ QB Zach Wilson and backup Tim Boyle, eleven each, his first picks for Buffalo. He also recovered a fumble by wide receiver Garrett Wilson, accounting for three of Buffalo’s four takeaways.
— Buffalo’s first takeaway came on the game’s opening kickoff when fullback Reggie Gilliam tagged Jets returner Xavier Gibson who fumbled with backup tight end Quintin Morris recovering.
Buffalo then proceeded to lose nine yards and had to settle for a 48-yard field goal.
— New York’s touchdown in the final seconds of the first half ended a streak of 40 straight possessions without scoring a TD. The Jets were 0-for-11 on third down but 4-of-5 on fourth.
— Ty Johnson scored his first touchdown as a Bill on a 26-yard pass from quarterback Josh Allen.
–Buffalo’s lone giveaway came on the final play of the first half when Allen’s Hail Mary pass was intercepted by Jets safety Ashtyn Davis, his second of the year.
— The Bills rushed for 130 yards, 73 by James Cook on 17 carries.
— Buffalo kicker Tyler Bass, who had made 29 straight extra points, missed his first of the season after Johnson’s score. However, he was 4-for-4 on field goals.
— Allen’s 81-yard touchdown connection with Khalil Shakir was Buffalo’s longest play of the season in the NFL and was only the second TD surrendered by the Jets to a wide receiver in 14 games, the other was to Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs in the season opener. Shakir had 115 yards on three receptions. By contrast, No. 1 wideout Diggs had four catches on eight targets for only 27 yards.
Shakir’s play eclipsed the previous season high, a 76-yarder by San Francisco wideout Brandon Aiyuk earlier in the afternoon.
— The Bills sacked Wilson and Boyle six times. End Leonard Floyd had 2½ giving him a team leading 9½. Tackle Ed Oliver got his sixth, middle linebacker Terrel Bernard got a half for 3½ while defensive end Shaq Lawson and outside linebacker Tyrel Dodson each got their first.
— New York’s lone sack of Allen came on Buffalo’s opening possession. It was recorded by defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, his second.
— The Bills outgained the Jets 393-155 in yardage and had a 14-minute edge in time of possession.
— Linebacker Quincy Williams, Quinnen’s brother, had a game-high 10 tackles while Jets’ safety DJ Reed had nine stops, all alone, tops in the game.
Dodson led the Bills with seven tackles and six solos while ending Von Miller, in his seventh game back from knee surgery, didn’t make the score sheet and has one tackle and one assist in that span.
— Buffalo’s inactives were safety Damar Hamlin, linebacker AJ Klein, defensive tackle Poona Ford and offensive tackles Germain Ifedi and Alec Anderson.
(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at [email protected].)
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