Five turnovers does in Bills.
by Steve Saslow
Oct. 7, 2001
The Bills may have ended the debate on who is the worst team in the NFL today as they were bombed for the fourth straight game in a 42-36 loss to the Jets. The final score was not indicative to the game as two late scores made the final score respectable when most of the fans had gone home. The offense turned the ball over three times in their first four possessions and they all resulted in first quarter touchdowns. The Bills would also lose QB Rob Johnson before the horrendous first quarter was over. They turned the ball over five times in all, two of them were returned for scores and two more resulted in touchdowns.
The Bills broke out their bag of tricks on the opening kickoff and recovered an onside kick. The momentum lasted two plays as Sammy Morris fumbled the ball right back on the second play from scrimmage. It took the Jets five plays to go 49 yards to a 16 yard Curtis Martin Touchdown.
It got worse for Buffalo as they opened the game in a wide open no huddle offense and promptly gave the ball back to the Jets for a second straight series as Johnson threw an interception on a pass that was deflected by Larry Centers but overthrown by Johnson. The Jets setup shop at the Buffalo 4 and scored on the next play, a touchdown pass from Vinny Testerverde to Richie Anderson. That gave them a 14-0 lead with over 11 minutes to go in the first quarter.
The Offense got it going for a brief shining moment when Johnson finally found Eric Moulds in a big way as he caught a 46 yard touchdown pass. Of course even a good thing had a bad ending as Jay Riemersma couldn't get a handle on the extra point attempt. He tried to throw for two but his pass to DaShon Polk was ruled incomplete. It appeared he caught it but there wasn't enough evidence to overturn the call as Gregg Williams lost his first replay challenge as a head coach.
After the Bills defense finally forced a punt, the Offense decided to just give away the points themselves on the next possession as Johnson lost the football on a hit from Mo Lewis and it was returned seven yards for a touchdown by John Abraham to give the Jets a commanding 21-6 lead. Gregg Williams lost his second replay review as it was close but it didn't appear that Johnson's hand was going forward when he lost the football. The Offense was then tired of losing footballs to the Jets instead they just lost their quarterback. Johnson was hit in the head with an elbow from Lewis on a scramble and left the game with a pinched nerve in his neck, he would not return. Amazingly enough Lewis wasn't called for a penalty since Johnson was already into his slide before the hit. He will likely be fined by the league but at the time the Bills could have used the 15 yard penalty.
Alex Van Pelt came in the game and on the Bills next possession started moving the ball as the Bills dropped the no huddle offense and started running with Travis Henry. The early second quarter drive featured 35 yards rushing by Henry but ended when Moulds dropped a pass in the end zone on third down that was thrown slightly behind him. Jake Arians hit the 28 yard field goal to get the Bills to within 12 points. Unfortunately when you dig a 15 point first quarter hole you need touchdowns in the red zone not field goals.
The Jets continued to get big chunks of yardage up the middle of the defense with Martin and some play action and misdirection plays that totally fooled the terrible Bills defense that was severely outmanned again today. They got 51 yards on three straight plays midway through the second quarter enroute to an easy four yard touchdown run untouched by Martin up the middle. The Jets had a 28-9 lead as the Bills red zone defense proved it was just as bad as the red zone offense.
The offense continued to move the ball behind Van Pelt and the running of Henry. They drove down the field late in the half and finally connected in the red zone. Van Pelt hit Riemersma on a 3 yard strike on a third and goal play. The Bills surprisingly went for two and missed making the score 28-15 as Van Pelt couldn't connect with Riemersma again.
The Jets marched right down the field literally, as Martin did what he wanted running up the middle, but time ran out and a hail mary pass was knocked down mercifully ending the half. While the offense moved better in the second quarter behind Van Pelt the defense was pathetic. They allowed 113 yards rushing to Martin in the first half along with his two scores! The only thing keeping the Bills close in the first half was Henry's 70 yards rushing and that was mostly in the second quarter as he did not start this game in the no huddle offense.
The Bills struck quickly in the second half as Van Pelt found Peerless Price for a 70 yard touchdown pass. It went twenty yards in the air, and the Price broke an initial tackle attempt on the way to the end zone to pull the Bills to within 6 at 28-22.
The defenses settled things down for a couple of series before the Jets blew the game open late in the third quarter. They drove 68 yards in 5 plays as the Bills defense returned to its anemic self. A beautiful 2 yard touchdown grab by Anthony Becht capped the scoring drive. The Jets defense then forced their fourth turnover of the game and scored their second touchdown as a Centers fumble was returned by Lewis 15 yards for a score two plays later as the rout was on again with the Jets leading 42-22.
The Bills added two late scores, as Centers scored twice, a two yard run and a 6 yard reception but it was too late. The first quarter of this game and the last few minutes of the third quarter was a microcosm of how bad this season has been for the Bills. At least they gave us something to cheer about from midway through the second quarter until midway through the third. The team is now 0-4 for the first time since 1985. It appears this team is headed for the same fate as that awful Bills team.
Even though the Jets won much easier than the final score indicates there were many bright spots by the Bills offense and only one glaring dark spot on Defense, the entire unit. That is why our gameballs and goats are lopsided the wrong way:
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