It was a winning end of the season for the New York Jets, a sloppy 13-6 win at the Buffalo Bills not quite an uplifting end to what has been a difficult year for the organization. But for a team that was 1-7 just a few months ago, another win gives some momentum heading into the offseason.
The Jets avenged their 17-16 season-opening loss to the Bills, a tough to crack defense that did well to limit what was primarily the Bills second-team offense.
With the win, the Jets finish the season 7-9, having gone 6-2 over the last half of the season to build some respectable after their rough start. They closed out the season on a two-game winning streak.
The Jets came into the season finale off an impressive win over the Pittsburgh Steelers that perhaps defines the reason for a certain level of optimism about this rebuilding team. And while this game feels woefully incomplete and underwhelming, it is nevertheless a win for a team that struggled during the first half of the season to get out of their own way.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Jets got on the board first. At 10:58 in the second quarter, a Sam Ficken 30-yard field goal put the Jets up 3-0. Ficken missed two field goal attempts in the first half as the Jets defense did well to shutout the Bills until halftime.
Tied at 3-3, the Jets responded to a Bills field goal with their own score. With 13:34 left in the fourth quarter, quarterback Sam Darnold found wide receiver Jamison Crowder for a 1-yard touchdown pass and what would become a 10-3 lead for the visitors.
On the afternoon, Darnold was 23-of-36 for 199 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
The Jets struggled in this game, typified by Ficken’s two missed field goals in the first half and some sloppy moments on offense. While the Bills are certainly a quality team, they began to pull numerous starters from the game throughout the first half in an effort to be ready for the Wild Card round next week. Quarterback Josh Allen, for instance, played just the first quarter for the Bills before giving way to backup Matt Barkley.
It was a strong defensive effort from the Jets, paced by linebacker James Burgess who had seven tackles including one tackle for a loss and his first career interception. The Bills had a total of three turnovers and gained just 309 yards in total offense.
That the Jets looked a bit underwhelming against the Bills backups takes some of the shine off their win and beating a playoff-bound divisional rival. Yet, for a team that has battled as many injuries and self-inflicted wounds as the Jets have this year, beating the Bills and capping the season with six wins from their last eight games points this team up heading into the offseason.
Ficken atoned in part for his two first half misses, hitting a 47-yard field goal before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter to extend the Jets to a 13-3 lead.