The Bills, in the midst of a four-game skid, kept finding new and innovative ways to lose. This week’s installment? At one point, the Buffalo offense ran 27 consecutive offensive plays ... and was outscored 7-0 by the Jets defense during that stretch.
Leading 7-6 and facing third-and goal from the New York 14 on the final play of the first quarter, Trent Edwards dropped back and fired a pass to Roscoe Parrish, who had bailed him out on another third-and-long play earlier in the possession. Unfortunately for the Bills, Parrish slipped while trying to make his cut. Strong safety Abram Elam didn’t. Ninety-two yards later, Elam and his teammates were celebrating in the end zone in front of a stunned Ralph Wilson Stadium crowd.
The offense tried to regroup, setting off on another long drive. But with Marshawn Lynch sidelined after sprinting the length of the field in a futile attempt to catch Elam, Fred Jackson was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the New York 8-yard line, and the Jets headed into the locker room with the score 13-7.
The teams swapped field goals early in the second half, before Thomas Jones’ seven-yard touchdown run gave the visitors a two-touchdown lead at the end of the third quarter. And when Rian Lindell’s 43-yard kick hooked wide early in the fourth, the situation appeared grim for the hometown team.
Ah, but Brett Favre still has that gunslinger’s heart. Content to dump the ball off to his backs and tight ends for most of the game, the veteran quarterback, pressured by Paul Posluszny, heaved the ball in the general direction of Jerricho Cotchery. An alert Jabari Greer jumped the route, made the pick, and sprinted 42 yards to the end zone, tying a club record with his second pick-six of the season. Lindell’s extra point cut the margin to 23-17 with 10:53 remaining, and if the defense could hold one more time, the Bills would be right back in the game.
That defensive stand never happened. The Jets played keepaway for the next 8:41, combining a heavy dose of running plays with a few short, safe passes, and Jay Feely’s fourth field goal of the afternoon restored their two-score lead with just 2:16 on the clock. Buffalo moved quickly downfield on their last-chance drive, but cornerback Darrelle Revis picked off a pass in his own end zone to end the threat, and two Favre kneeldowns finished off the win.
The Bills managed just 30 yards on 17 carries, the tenth-worst rushing performance in franchise history. Lynch ended up with 9 carries for 16 yards, while Jackson managed just 15 yards on his 7 attempts.
Neither quarterback had a particularly strong game. Favre finished 19-of-28 for 201 yards, no touchdowns, and Greer’s interception; Edwards completed 24 of 35 passes for 289 yards and a touchdown, but took five sacks and turned the ball over three times (two INTs and a fumble).
With Lee Evans double-covered and Josh Reed out, Edwards was forced to look for different targets. Robert Royal led the team with 70 yards on five receptions, with Lynch (3 catches-52 yards) and Parrish (3-51) also contributing. Rookie Derek Fine made his first NFL catch a memorable one, hauling in a 9-yard touchdown pass on the Bills’ first possession.
Thomas Jones ran for 69 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries, a 5.8-yard average, and added another 38 on six receptions.
The win pulled the Jets into a first-place tie with the Bills and Patriots at 5-3, with the Dolphins a game behind.
Pinned inside his own 20 and with the Bills clinging to a 6-3 lead late in the fourth quarter, J.P Losman went for broke. Spotting Lee Evans streaking down the right sideline, Losman – in the game for the injured Trent Edwards – uncorked one of his patented deep balls.
“It seemed like it hung in the air forever,” Evans said. “I just tried to go up and make a play on it. It was a matter of who wanted to make the play the most.”
Jets rookie cornerback Darrelle Revis tried to fight Evans for the ball, managing to get his hands on it, but the Bills wide receiver won the battle. And when safety Abram Elam collided with Revis, knocking both defenders out of the play, Evans had clear sailing to the end zone for an 85-yard, game-clinching touchdown.
New York countered by bringing in Kellen Clemens off the bench to replace Chad Pennington; while he did manage to move the ball, he also threw two interceptions, the last on a Hail Mary to George Wilson as time expired.
The 85-yard score marked the fifth-longest play in team history, and the longest since the club-record 95-yarder from Todd Collins to Quinn Early, Dec.1, 1996 in Indianapolis.
The touchdown was the 25th of Evans’ career, moving him past Frank Lewis and into a tie with Pete Metzelaars and Peerless Price for sixth on the team’s all-time list. He’s currently alone in fifth with 32, with the late Bobby Chandler (34) next on the list.
Second-year left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson had problems trying to stop Aaron Schobel all afternoon; the Bills defensive end finished the game with a sack and two forced fumbles, including one recovered by Chris Kelsay.
The Bills improved to 8-1 under Dick Jauron when allowing fewer than 15 points. That record now stands at 12-3.