EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When the Bills assess what happened in Sunday afternoon’s ugly 27-20 loss to the Jets at Met Life Stadium,
the glare of guilt will be on Buffalo coordinator Mike Pettine’s defense.
As it should be.
After all, his attacking style, taken directly from New York’s embattled coach Rex Ryan, his former boss, was absolutely filleted by one of the NFL’s least potent offenses.
The Jets rolled up 513 yards, 331 of them through the air on only 16 completions by rookie quarterback Geno Smith. Two of those were 69- and 51-yard touchdown connections to Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill, both of whom burned cornerback Justin Rogers so badly, he probably needed a tube of aloe after the game.
Then there was the obligatory no-name back — in this case, Bilal Powell — stampeding the Bills’ ‘D’ for 149 yards on 27 workhorse carries.
Even the Jets’ record 20 penalties for 168 yards and 2-0 loss in the turnover battle didn’t help a Buffalo defense that couldn’t stop the run or pass.
AND THAT brings us to the second guilty party.
That hurry-up doesn’t look so good if a drive can’t be mounted and sustained.
In nine of the Bills’ 15 possessions, they had the ball for 5-or-fewer snaps and while three of the six longer ones produced field goals — Dan Carpenter hit four in all — Buffalo still lost the time-of-possession battle by disappointing 8 1/2 minutes.
And when the Bills had the ball, rookie quarterback EJ Manuel was harassed with a capital ‘H.’ He was sacked a numbing eight times and hit on 16 others passing attempts. In other words, on 50 dropbacks he was hit nearly half the time.
Under the circumstances, his 19-of-42 for 243-yard passing numbers were reasonably good. He also wasn’t intercepted and connected on a 33-yard touchdown pass to tight end Scott Chandler that tied the game at 20.
But the reason the Jets are 2-1 and Buffalo is the reverse is its inability to run the ball consistently, particularly feature back C.J. Spiller, whose slow start continued with 10 carries for nine yards, before he left with a knee injury in the second half.
“GIVE THEM credit,” Buffalo coach Doug Marrone said. “They give up 2.4 yards a rush (coming in and Sunday Buffalo averaged 4.8, mostly because of Fred Jackson/s seven carries for 72 yards, though 59 came on one play).
“We were trying to stay with it and (when you can’t run) it hurts in what you’re trying to get accomplished.”
Of the pressure on Manuel, Marrone added, “They’re a good defense. Did we miss some things out there ... could we have done a better job? Absolutely.
“We just needed to make a play and put the ball where our receivers could get it. We said before the game that we were going to have to make some big plays — they force you to do that — and we weren’t able to.”
MEANWHILE, Manuel admittedly was a bit confounded by the pressure.
“When they’re bringing eight people at you, that’s definitely tough You have to get the ball out or you’ll take a hit ... they were bringing more guys than we had to protect,” he explained. “But you have to relax ... when you hurry things up, that’s when you throw errant passes. It’s a tough situation to handle, but moving forward we’ll be more prepared for it.”
He added, “The biggest thing was converting third downs ... we really struggled there (4-of-18).”
Still, the TD pass to Campbell got the Bills even with 10 1/2 minutes to play, but it took the Jets only 76 seconds to get the clincher from Smith to Holmes.
Buffalo then couldn’t cash its last four possessions.
“We got ourselves in position to win the game (by tying it),” Manuel said, “but we didn’t execute well enough to get another score.
“When we got the ball late at the (Buffalo) 1-yard line and had a few seconds left, I still felt like we could go down and score. I’m never going to feel like we’re defeated ... until the clock runs out.
“Any time it’s a close game, you always feel like you could do things a little differently.”
Now the Bills have lost two like that ... and except for a flawed decision by Carolina coach Ron Rivera, it could be three.