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Rex Ryan's Buffalo Bills knock New York Jets out of playoffs

By Jonah Bronstein, The Sports Xchange   |   Jan. 4, 2016 at 1:27 AM
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - Rex Ryan's Buffalo Bills made sure the New York Jets wouldn't make the playoffs without him.

The Bills built an early lead and thwarted the Jets' comeback effort with three fourth-quarter interceptions to win 22-17 on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Jets (10-6). Combined with the Pittsburgh Steelers' win Sunday in Cleveland, it prevents New York from making the playoffs for the first time since 2010, the second of Ryan's six seasons coaching the Jets.

"I got a lot of friends over there and I want them to be successful," Ryan said. "But not at my expense."

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor completed 18 of 28 passes and led the Bills in rushing with 52 yards and a touchdown, rookie running back Karlos Williams also rushed for a touchdown, and kicker Dan Carpenter made all three of his field-goal attempts as the Bills won their second straight game since being eliminated from playoff contention.

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins eluded Jets' cornerback Darrelle Revis to make a career-high 11 receptions for 136 yards.

Buffalo dominated time of possession with a season-high 39:13 to the Jets' season-low 20:47. The Bills were 9-for-20 on third downs and converted two fourth downs against a Jets defense that entered the game ranked third in the NFL in third-down defense. Meanwhile, the Jets were 3-for-11 on third down.

"We knew this was going to be a fight and they were going to give us their best shot," Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. "We weren't going to be able to walk on the field and have them bow down to us."

Said linebacker Calvin Pace: "We just picked a bad time to have a bad game. It's not gonna feel good sitting at home with 10 wins."

The Bills finished 8-8 in Ryan's first season, with two wins over the Jets. They were 9-7 last season under coach Doug Marrone. This is the first time the Bills have had consecutive seasons at .500 or better during their 16-season playoff drought.

"There's a lot of teams that'll mail it in," Ryan said. "But this team certainly wasn't one of them, despite all the negative criticism."

Fitzpatrick had his worst performance of the season in his first game in Buffalo since he was the Bills' starter in 2012. Fitzpatrick completed 16 of 37 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted on all three of the Jets' fourth quarter possessions.

"It's the hardest and most difficult end to a season I have ever had," Fitzpatrick said. "It's not because of where it was, but because of what was at stake."

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall caught eight passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Eric Decker caught five passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. Running back Chris Ivory rushed for 81 yards on six carries.

The Jets had a chance to take the lead early in the fourth quarter but Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin jumped a post route to intercept Fitzpatrick's pass from the 14 in the end zone.

The Bills then killed nearly seven minutes off the clock with their third drive of the game totaling at least 13 plays, and Carpenter's 42-yard field goal made it 22-17 with 3:49 remaining.

The Jets got out near midfield at the two-minute warning, but Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus hit Fitzpatrick and caused his third-down pass to float in the air and fall in the hands of diving linebacker Manny Lawson.

Rookie linebacker A.J. Tarpley's interception with 11 seconds left sealed the victory.

"All you can ask for in this game is an opportunity and as poorly as we played in the first quarter, as slow as we were going there, we picked it up and had an opportunity in the end to win the game," Fitzpatrick said. "We weren't able to pull it off and my heart hurts bad right now for all those guys in the locker room."

Bills center Eric Wood tried to console his former quarterback on the field after the game.

"It's such a mixture of emotions at that moment," Wood said. "He's one of my best friends. I want success for Fitz. I don't want it at the expense of the Buffalo Bills in our stadium."

Fitzpatrick led the Jets on their longest drive of the game (11 plays, 77 yards, 3:52) and connected with Decker for a 21-yard touchdown that got the Jets within 19-17 with just over a minute left in the third quarter.

After holding the ball for 20:34 in the first half, the Bills killed another eight minutes off the clock midway through the third quarter and took a 19-10 lead on a 37-yard field goal from kicker Dan Carpenter. The 14-play, 66-yard drive was extended by an 8-yard pass from Taylor to Watkins on fourth-and-six.

The Jets cut the lead to 16-10 two minutes into the second half. Nose tackle Damon Harrison forced a fumble by Bills running back Mike Gillislee that was recovered by Revis at the Buffalo 23, and kicker Randy Bullock made a 39-yard field goal from the same spot he missed from earlier.

The Bills took a 16-7 lead into halftime on Carpenter's 20-yard field goal with 23 seconds remaining. The 15-play, 70-yard scoring drive spanned over nine minutes.

Fitzpatrick drove the Jets 60 yards in 86 seconds to put the Jets on the scoreboard with just under 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Fitzpatrick completed four straight passes, the last a 17-yard touchdown to Marshall that made it 13-7.

The Jets squandered their first scoring opportunity. After gaining just 19 yards on their first three drives, running back Chris Ivory put the Jets in field goal range with a 58-yard run, but Bullock's kick into the wind sailed wide right.

New York miscues contributed to the Bills' scoring two early touchdowns.

Ryan Quigley's shanked punt gave the Bills a drive start at the Jets' 25 before Taylor scrambled out of the pocked and tucked an 18-yard touchdown inside the left pylon with 5:55 left in the first quarter. A personal foul penalty on rookie defensive end Leonard Williams turned a third-and-two into a first down at the Jets' 11 before Williams' 2-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-one.

NOTES: Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson broke his right leg in the third quarter. ... Bills RB Karlos Williams injured his knee on his second-quarter touchdown run and did not return. The Bills were already without starting RB LeSean McCoy (knee) for the second straight game. ... Buffalo rookies RG John Miller (ankle) and CB Ronald Darby (groin) aggravated previous injuries and did not return. ... Bills K Dan Carpenter missed his sixth extra point of the season.

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