All the Jets had to do was win, and they were in.
Rex Ryan, who was relieved as New York Jets head coach at the end of last season and signed on as Buffalo’s head coach this past offseason, made it a point of emphasis this past week for his Buffalo Bills to finish the season strong despite them being eliminated from playoff contention, and it seemed to have resonated with his players, as his Bills defeated the Jets 22-17 and kept them from reaching the postseason for the fifth consecutive year.
Bills running back, Boobie Dixon, spoke on the importance of winning the game against the playoff hopeful Jets earlier this week.
“We’ve got something to play for now,” Dixon told reporters after his team’s Week 16 victory over Dallas. “We been having something to play for — that’s our respect and our pride. We always want that. But to send them home packing, that would be great.”
The game was relatively close throughout despite multiple mishaps by the Jets, but it was the Ryan’s Bills and not the Jets that were playing with purpose Sunday in a game that very much had a playoff environment in Orchard Park.
Led by their elusive quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who seemed to convert on plays with his legs when his team needed them most, the Bills were able to convert on nine third downs along with two pivotal fourth downs, which included an 18 yard touchdown run from Taylor on a third down in the first quarter.
The Jets, with everything on the line, were plagued by miscues. Their defense was flagged early and often in the first half, which contributed to the Bills’ two 70-yard drives in the first half that led to touchdowns.
But despite their penalties, they were still in the game late, but the Jets couldn’t overcome quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s three picks, the final one coming in the last minute of the game with the Jets down by 5.
Fitzpatrick had an opportunity to earn a playoff birth for the first time in his ten-year career, but instead will watch from home and dread the fact that his former team got the better of him Sunday afternoon. In a season where the Jets’ offense broke most of their franchises all-time records, they were simply outplayed and out-hustled by their former head coach’s squad.
With a Jets loss, the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to sneak into the postseason with their win against the Cleveland Browns. And though many believed the Jets would be a team to be reckoned with this upcoming postseason, it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers that have earned the wildcard spot. Pittsburgh is a team that is no stranger to being successful as a wild card team, being the first and only 6th seed to win a Superbowl back in 2006.
Ultimately, it isn’t the season Rex Ryan envisioned for his Buffalo Bills. He guaranteed his Bills would end their 15-year playoff drought and reach the postseason in year one of his campaign when he was first signed, but will instead have the consolation of keeping his former team out of the postseason and using the victory as a building block for his young Bills to build off of next season.
(AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)