Top 3 Things We Learned
The Bills let a 13-3 halftime lead get away from them during a nightmare of a second half and the Jets won in overtime 22-16 despite an injury to QB Aaron Rodgers that knocked him out for the game on the opening series.
Jets return man Xavier Gipson took a punt to the house in OT, sending Buffalo home with an 0-1 start to the season.
Here’s the top three things from the Bills’ Week 1 loss:
Jets take advantage of Allen’s turnovers
The 2023 season did not start out as planned for Bills QB Josh Allen as he committed four turnovers, tying a career-high. The Bills are now 9-13 when Allen turns the ball over 2+ times in a game and 43-13 when he turns it over 1 or fewer times.
“I hurt our team tonight. I cost our team tonight,” Allen said. “It feels eerily similar to last year and I hate that it’s the same. I do.”
The Jets made sure the Bills paid for the mistakes as they scored 13 of their 16 regulation points following a Buffalo turnover.
Usually a master of the deep ball, Allen’s passing errors on Monday came primarily when he aired it out downfield. He finished 2 of 7 for 41 yards and 3 INT on passes over 15 air yards, per Next Gen Stats. Twice, the sixth-year quarterback threw deep into double coverage with safety Jordan Whitehead picking off the ball.
With the Bills up 13-6 midway through the fourth quarter, it was once again Whitehead jumping a ball thrown to WR Gabe Davis. After only managing a field goal off the previous two INTs, the Jets tied the game up on an 8-play, 57-yard drive ending in a spectacular contested TD catch by WR Garrett Wilson.
Disaster struck again immediately as Allen fumbled the first play from scrimmage after the TD. The Jets recovered, then kicked a field goal to take a 16-13 lead with 1:51 to play.
Josh Allen finished 2/7 for 41 yards and 3 INT on passes over 15 air yards in a MNF loss to the Jets.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 12, 2023
“Just kind of slipped through my hands,” Allen recalled. “We had a motion and I tried to grab it and just tried to get yards. I got hit on multiple sides and just fumbled the ball.”
Allen showed his resilience to lead the team down for a Tyler Bass game-tying field goal and force overtime, but the Bills went three-and-out to begin OT.
The Jets have had Allen’s number in recent matchups. In the last three meetings, the Jets have held the Buffalo QB to fewer than 240 passing yards in each contest and forced six turnovers.
“I think their pass rush does a good job of disrupting things. I think they play smart defense,” Allen added.
As Rodgers goes down, Bills D adjusts to familiar face
The build up to the Bills-Jets game reached extraordinary heights, largely due to star QB Aaron Rodgers landing in the Big Apple in the offseason.
In front of a sold out MetLife Stadium, Rodgers had to leave the game after the fourth play of the night. Having yet to complete a pass in a Jets uniform, Rodgers went down with an ankle injury following a sack by Leonard Floyd. The QB went to the sidelines and into the blue medical tent; he later had to be carted to the locker room and was ruled out for the remainder of the game.
“I didn’t realize he got hurt until later in the game when he didn’t come back,” Floyd said.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh said postgame that it is an Achilles injury for Rodgers and the initial thought is “not good” for his outlook.
With Rodgers sidelined, a familiar foe in Zach Wilson took over as the Jets’ starting QB. Buffalo’s defensive unit had to shift what they were doing.
“Obviously the game plan changed a little bit with more of a running type of quarterback,” Floyd said of the third-year pro in Wilson.
For much of the night, that game plan was to attack the Jets’ offensive line — and it worked. Wilson faced heavy pressure all night, getting sacked twice and hit on five other pass attempts. He was held to 5.3 net yards per passing play, according to Next Gen Stats.
All-Pro LB Matt Milano made a superb play in the second quarter, reading the eyes of Wilson and picking off the QB.
“We fought hard and played hard on defense. Just got to be better towards the end,” Floyd shared.
In the absence of Von Miller, several members of Buffalo’s pass rush unit stepped up, with Floyd, Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips all recording a sack. Greg Rousseau was also a constant force around the football.
Cornerback Christian Benford got the start opposite CB1 Tre’Davious White and the second-year player made a touchdown-saving tackle on Jets RB Breece Hall in the first half. Hall broke loose for an 83-yard run that looked like it was going for a touchdown but Benford tracked the RB down, reaching a top speed of 21.64 mph to make the tackle, per Next Gen Stats.
“We were out of our gaps there on that long run,” head coach Sean McDermott said. “We had an eight-man front defense. We were misaligned a little bit there and that’s something we’ll learn from.”
Outside of Diggs, offense unable to generate production
Granted, the Jets defense is among the best in the league — but with that said, it was a tough night for the Bills’ skill players not named Stefon Diggs.
Diggs led the team with 102 yards receiving; no other player had over 40 receiving yards.
When targeting Diggs, QB Josh Allen completed 10 of 13 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, an average of over 10 yards per completion. When not targeting Diggs, Allen completed 19 of 28 passes for 134 yards, an average of 7 yards per play.
“We just lost the game, we didn’t play to our standard and we beat ourselves,” Gabe Davis said. “I don’t think it really has to do with the Jets, I feel like it has to do with us.”
Two positives to note: Rookie TE Dalton Kincaid tied for second on the team in receptions (4) and third in yards (26). Also, second-year pro James Cook, who assumes the RB1 duties this season, was a security blanket for Allen and tied a career high in targets (6).
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