On a disappointing day in which Buffalo trailed by 34 points early in the third quarter, it was difficult to discern which was more discouraging - the scattershot flinging of Ryan Fitzpatrick or the invisible performance by defensive end Mario Williams, who was supposed to be the second coming of Bruce Smith and Reggie White.
Fitz looked like the guy who led the NFL in interceptions last season, throwing three in the first half, including a pick-six to Antonio Cromartie on an absolutely godawful pass. Super Mario, meanwhile, was credited with just one tackle. You read right. One tackle. Not exactly the kind of return you expect from your $100-million investment. I don't care if you are being blocked by half the island of Manhattan, if you are in Smith and White's league, you manage to fight through and make life miserable on the quarterback at least several times a game.
Williams was hardly the only Bills defender missing in action. His linemates - Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Mark Anderson - didn't put much heat on Sanchez. The Jets QB took advantage of the extra time to torch veteran Leodis McKelvin, rookie Stephon Gilmore, second-year corner Aaron Williams and the rest of the Bills secondary for 266 yards and three scores while converting 10-of-14 third downs.
The only bright spot was C.J. Spiller, who was superb in place of Fred Jackson, who left with a knee ligament injury that may sideline him for awhile. Spiller reeled off a 56-yard touchdown run and set up another score with a 49-yard burst. He finished with a career-high 167 yards on 14 carries.
But the performance was wasted, in large part, because of Fitzpatrick, whose first two interceptions resulted in Jet touchdown drives. On the Bills third possession, Fitz was unable to sustain the march, and Jeremy Kerley returned Brian Moorman's punt 68 yards to put the Jets up, 21-0.
Spiller broke free on his long touchdown run on Buffalo's next series to cut the gap to two touchdowns, but Spiller fumbled the ball on the Bills ensuing possession and New York turned it into three more points. When Fitz was picked by Cromartie early in the third quarter, the deficit became too big for Buffalo to overcome.
So, the Bills failed to measure up in this measuring stick of a game. The good news is that the schedule-makers have given Buffalo two very winnable games the next two weeks. The Bills host the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday, then visit Cleveland to play a Browns team that's the worst in the NFL. Not only do the Chiefs and Browns lack the Jets, they also don't run the confusing array of blitz packages that have allowed Rex Ryan to befuddle Fitzpatrick and hold the former Harvard quarterback to a mediocre percent completion percentage.
I believe Fitz can bounce back these next two weeks - he better. The bigger concerns are the injuries to Jackson and wide receiver David Nelson, and the lackluster performance by the defense, which was supposed to be dramatically better.
These are pivotal games for Buffalo, which has lost nine of its last 10 and will host New England in Week Four before making trips to San Francisco and Arizona.
SCOTT'S REPORT CARD
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