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Jets grades: Shows improvement

New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) leaves

New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) leaves the field after a 30-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on Jan. 1, 2017. Credit: New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) leaves the field after a 30-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on Jan. 1, 2017.


In what likely was his final game as a Jets quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick was 20-for-30 passing for 210 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 109.0 QB rating. In the absence of No. 1 running back Matt Forte (injured reserve), Bilal Powell shouldered the load, recording his second 100-plus yard performance of the season. He had 122 yards on 22 carries and surpassed 1,000 offensive yards for the first time in his six-year career. Quincy Enunwa’s two catches for 60 yards set up Powell’s 2-yard TD catch on the Jets’ first scoring drive. With an offensive line featuring only one Week 1 starter (James Carpenter), the Jets outrushed the Bills, 127-68, and outgained them, 329-230. Rookie Jalin Marshall’s had his second TD of the season.


Save for a 1-yard TD run in garbage time, the unit kept the Bills out of the end zone most of the afternoon. The defense had its way with Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel (9 of 20 passing for 86 yards, two sacks) and cornerback Darrelle Revis had his first interception of the season when he picked off backup Cardale Jones late in the fourth quarter. Revis’ 51-yard return on the play — his longest since a 64-yarder vs. San Diego in 2011 — set up Nick Folk’s third field and made it 23-3. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson had a sack for the second straight week to up his season total to 4 1⁄2. Sheldon Richardson had six tackles, two for a loss, a pass defensed and a recovered fumble. Rookie Jordan Jenkins had a sack, as did newly-acquired linebacker Corey Lemonier, who leveled Manuel for a loss of 12 with a bone-rattling hit in the third. Jenkins’ fumble recovery on the play set up Marshall’s 6-yard score. The Jets, who entered with only 16 points off turnovers, finished plus-3 in turnover margin.


Safety Doug Middleton caught Buffalo sleeping late in the fourth quarter. After the Bills failed to cover the ball on a Folk kickoff, Middleton jumped on it after it rolled into the end zone to make it 30-3 with 3:21 to go. It was the Jets’ first special teams TD in the past 50 games, since Antonio Allen recovered a blocked punt for a score against Oakland in 2013. Folk provided nine points on three field goals (30, 36, 25 yards). In place of return man Nick Marshall (inactive), Jalin Marshall had a 32-yard kickoff return and a career-long 19-yard punt return.


With nothing to play for, Todd Bowles’ players could have mailed it in, but didn’t. The outcome of Sunday’s game had no bearing on the coach’s long-term status, but one thing is certain: He has to be better with game management next season. Case in point: He blew two second-half timeouts on one drive. Feeding Powell is a move Chan Gailey should have made months ago. Credit offensive line coach Steve Marshall for handling a plethora of injuries all season. His makeshift line didn’t surrender a sack vs. the Bills. Also credit wide receivers coach Karl Dorrell for the improvement of his younger charges.

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