Jets playoff hopes thwarted in 22-17 loss at Buffalo
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Of all the places, and against all the teams Ryan Fitzpatrick and the New York Jets could have their playoff hopes spoiled, it had to be Buffalo and Rex Ryan’s Bills.
A year after being fired by the Jets, Ryan got back at his former team by thwarting New York’s chances of making the playoffs for the first time since 2010. And then there’s Fitzpatrick, whose bid to reach the postseason for the first time in his 11-year career collapsed in his first return to Buffalo since being cut by the Bills three years ago.
It all came to a discouraging end on Sunday, when the Jets unraveled in a 22-17 loss to an AFC East rival that was out of the postseason picture for a 16th straight year.
“It’s hard to come up with words,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s the hardest and most difficult end to a season I’ve ever had in in terms of how I feel right now, and how painful of a loss that was.”
After throwing just one interception in winning his previous five games, Fitzpatrick was picked off on each of the Jets final three drives.
The Jets (10-6) needed a win to clinch a postseason berth. And they were eliminated from contention shortly after the final whistle blew in Buffalo, when the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) advanced with a 28-12 win at Cleveland.
“I’m a little numb right now,” said receiver Brandon Marshall. “I have no emotion. Just get on the bus and reflect a little bit.”
The mood was much different for Buffalo (8-8), a team that showed resilience in overcoming an injury depleted roster in playing the role of spoiler.
“I’ve got a lot of friends over there, and I want them to be successful,” Ryan said. “But not at my expense.”
A number of things that stood out as the Bills beat the Jets for a fifth straight time:
PICKY, PICKY: The Fitzpatrick interception-parade began early in the fourth quarter when cornerback Leodis McKelvin stepped in front of a 14-yard pass intended for Eric Decker in the end zone.
Then, on the first snap following the 2-minute warning, Fitzpatrick was hit by Marcell Dareus just as he got the ball off. The pass was underthrown and intercepted by Manny Lawson.
The game was decided when Fitzpatrick’s side-arm pass over the middle was intercepted by linebacker A.J. Tarpley with 11 seconds remaining.
The Jets’ loss to Buffalo on Nov 12 ended with Fitzpatrick being intercepted by safety Bacarri Rambo.
END FOR MARIO: Bills defensive end Mario Williams said he wants to be back but doesn’t know what his future holds in Buffalo.
Last week, a person familiar with discussions told The Associated Press last week that Williams will be cut this offseason because of his high-priced salary and drop in performance. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills do not publicly discuss their plans involving player personnel.
Williams has two years left on his contract. He had the team’s lone sack, upping his season total to five, a half-sack more than the career-low Williams had in his rookie season in 2006.
After having a league-leading 54 sacks last season, Buffalo finished with 21 this year, a franchise-low in a 16-game campaign.
TD TANDEM: Marshall and Decker each caught a touchdown pass in the same game for the ninth time this season, extending the NFL record they set a week earlier.
Marshall finished with a career-best 14 touchdowns. He had 126 yards receiving to finish with 1,502 this year — 6 short of matching a career best. Decker finished with 12 touchdowns.
Fitzpatrick finished with 31 touchdowns to break the franchise record of 29 set by Vinny Testaverde in 1998.
ON THE RUN: Quarterback Tyrod Taylor scored on an 18-yard run and rookie running back Karlos Williams scored on a 2-yard run. Buffalo finished with 19 touchdowns rushing this season, the most since the team had 20 in 1990.
FREE SANDWICHES: Pittsburgh-based Primanti Brothers restaurant rewarded the Bills for knocking off the Jets — and clinching the Steelers’ playoff berth — by announcing it will ship sandwiches to the team’s headquarters on Monday.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL