The Jets had Sam Darnold back behind center and a different voice in his helmet calling plays. But even that couldn’t change the Jets’ losing ways.
Adam Gase gave up the play-calling duties to his offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, hoping that could lead to a different result. But the Jets are still a hapless team on offense, and still winless after falling, 18-10, to the Bills on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
The Jets (0-7) led this game 10-0 midway through the first half. But their offense completely reverted to what they are. The Bills adjusted and the Jets had no answer.
After building their biggest lead of 2020, the Jets had just four first downs in six series. They produced just 4 yards of offense in the second half. Their only first down in the fourth quarter came on an unnecessary roughness penalty on the final drive that ended with a Darnold interception.
"We couldn’t move the ball in the second half," Gase said. "The defense did a good job giving us one last chance with a two-minute drill. We didn’t do anything with it."
Gregg Williams’ defense did its job. The Jets kept the Bills (5-2) out of the end zone all game. Tyler Bass connected on six field goals (53, 48, 46, 37, 29 and 40) for all of the Bills’ scoring. Bass also missed field goals of 45 and 37 yards.
But the Jets couldn’t get in the end zone, either. They couldn’t get near midfield in the second half. They totaled minus-8 yards in their three fourth-quarter series.
"I definitely hate that we let them get that many field goals," linebacker Avery Williamson said. "There were times we could have gotten off the field. That is on us."
Darnold returned after missing the previous two games with a sprained right shoulder. With Loggains in his ear, he got the Jets into the red zone on their first three series. The Jets ended up with 10 points.
Sergio Castillo, replacing the injured Sam Ficken, had the first field goal of his NFL career. Rookie running back La’Mical Perine registered his first touchdown, scoring on a 5-yard run to give the Jets the 10-point edge. Perine also was tackled for a loss on a fourth-and-1 from Buffalo’s 18.
Darnold had a rough game overall. He completed 12 of 23 passes for 120 yards. Darnold was under pressure all game and was sacked six times. He completed just one of his last 10 pass attempts – two of them were intercepted.
"We got to beat man coverage and protect," Darnold said. "I have to throw an accurate football. That’s it."
Darnold had a bad pick just before the half. The Jets were leading 10-3 and were starting to move toward Bills territory. Darnold underthrew a pass intended for Jeff Smith, who was covered. Dane Jackson picked off Darnold with 40 seconds remaining.
The half ended with a Bass field goal.
"I should have moved on in the progression," Darnold said. "I tried to force one in there. It just didn’t work out for me."
Things started promising for the Jets after Gase gave up the play-calling. This was something Gase had been considering for a couple of weeks.
The Jets drove into the red zone on their first three possessions. Their opening drive resulted in a Sergio Castillo field goal, his first in the NFL. On their second series, Perine was stopped on fourth-and-1 from the Bills’ 18.
Rookie Denzel Mims had four catches for 42 yards in his NFL debut. All of his production came in the first half.
Josh Allen threw for 307 yards for Buffalo. Cole Beasley caught 11 passes for 112 yards. The Jets held Stefon Diggs, the AFC’s leading receiver coming in, to just six catches for 48 yards.
Gase made the surprising decision to give up the play-calling during the week. Since becoming the offensive coordinator in Denver in 2013, Gase had called the plays every game before Sunday.
"I’ve been thinking about it for a while," Gase said. "I felt it was the time to do it and just see how our guys would respond, see what our offensive staff could put together. It looked like things were going well in the first half."
The Jets trailed 12-10 entering the fourth quarter. This was the first time they were in a one-possession game all season. Bass made it 15-10 with his 29-yard field goal with 6:01 left.
Offensively, the Jets weren’t up for the challenge.
Their first fourth-quarter series ended with a sack on third down. The Jets converted their initial third down with Darnold hitting Chris Herndon for a 14-yard gain. But it was nullified by an illegal formation penalty. On the Jets’ next series, they went three-and-out.
After Bass’ sixth field goal, the Jets took over at their 25 with 1:56 left. Darnold was sacked on first down. That series ended with Darnold getting picked.
"It’s tough," Williamson said. "We’re giving it our all week to week and still coming up short. We just got to make sure we’re keeping everybody together."