ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - During a break in the action at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday, a couple of Buffalo Bills players were shown on the video screen promoting an anti-bullying campaign.
Obviously, the New York Jets weren’t watching.
On a beautiful sun-splashed November afternoon in western New York, the Bills were thoroughly beaten up on the field and on the scoreboard by a Rex Ryan-led team that punched their hosts in the mouth on the opening play from scrimmage and never let up the rest of the way.
And after the final gun had sounded on the Jets’ convincing 27-11 victory at The Ralph, the bruised and battered Bills could only lament about how they were unable to push back against their bullying foes.
In the end, the best post mortem came from Bills head coach Chan Gailey, who needed just four words to describe the pounding his team had just absorbed.
“We weren’t physical enough,” Gailey sighed.
That about says it all.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of the afternoon for Gailey and his players, when all was said and done, was the opportunity to grab a stranglehold on their division, which they completely flushed away.
Had the Bills somehow found a way to dispose of the bombastic Ryan and his team, they would have found themselves alone atop the AFC East with a 6-2 record, ahead of the 5-3 Patriots and 4-4 Jets.
Instead, all three of those rivals now find themselves deadlocked at 5-3 at the halfway mark of the regular season, thanks in part to New England’s 24-20 loss to the New York Giants.
To be fair, the Bills were outclassed from the get-go in this one in terms of both brute strength and raw skill. That they trailed only 3-0 at half time was a tribute to a sloppy opening 30 minutes by a Jets side that kept shooting itself in the foot with turnovers and penalties.
But buoyed by Ryan’s urging to his troops to keep kicking butt, the Jets cleaned up their act and went on a 24-3 run in the second half to seal the deal.
For Bills receiver Stevie Johnson, who had bragged last week that this was “our time,” it was truly a humbling experience.
This, after all, had been Buffalo’s chance to show they could answer the bell and become an elite team in the division. On this occasion, they failed miserably.
“We just didn’t show up,” said Johnson, who was limited to three receptions by Jets all-world corner Darrelle Revis.
“When it started off, we were three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out. We can’t do that against a team like that, and that’s pretty much what it was.”
A Bills offence that came into the contest averaging more than 31 points per game could muster just 11 against Ryan’s suffocating defence. The Bills, in fact, had just three points on the board through the first 56:46 of play before quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick hit wideout David Nelson for a seven-yard scoring strike in garbage time after the outcome already had been determined.
How bad was the normally potent Bills offence? Consider that at one point in the third quarter, the Bills had committed as many turnovers (3) as first downs gained (3).
In previous games, Gailey’s multiple formations and spread offence had caused headaches for opposing defences.
But thanks to the ability of smothering cornerbacks Revis and Antonio Cromartie to stuff the Bills wideouts on the line of scrimmage, the Jets were able to put eight men into the box to snuff out the run, making life miserable for Buffalo running back Fred Jackson for much of the day.
“He has great vision and is their No. 1 playmaker,” Jets linebacker Bart Scott said of Jackson . “We knew if we had the opportunity to slow him down, we had to stop him.”
As for the Bills offensive gameplan, Scott noted that “it was the same plays they ran last year. They didn’t put in any new magic formula. It’s about executing.”
And it’s about being able to kicking sand in the faces of your opponents when the opportunity presents itself, making them look like 90-pound weaklings.
Which is exactly what Rex’s Boastful Bullies did to the Bills.