ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Jets will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year, and they still have Rex Ryan to blame.
Ryan’s Bills handed the Jets an agonizing 22-17 loss at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday, when the Jets could have clinched a playoff spot with a win. Instead, the loss, combined with Pittsburgh’s win, will have the Jets watching the wild-card round from their couches next weekend despite a 10-6 record.
The Bills had no chance of reaching the postseason. Their only motivation was playing the role of spoiler — and getting some revenge for their coach, whom the Jets fired after last year’s 4-12 season.
Ryan was coy all week and continued that trend Sunday, a far cry from his antics the last time these teams met, when he said beating his former team was akin to telling an ex-girlfriend she can’t have you back.
“I think the first was more emotional,” Ryan said. “There’s no question about it. Whether it was the first time going against the Jets or whatever, it was there, I’m not real sure. But I know it was real emotional for me then.
“This one was more about business.”
As for delivering a knockout blow to his former team, Ryan insisted this game had “nothing to do with that.”
“It really doesn’t,” he said. “I know it sounds crazy, but they had no choice but to let me go and I’ve said that before. But that’s not it. I wish that team was going [to the playoffs] in somebody else’s place.
“I have a lot of friends over there. I want them to be successful, but not at my expense.”
A loud roar was heard from the Bills’ locker room after the game, but Ryan said he didn’t know what caused it.
“Somebody must have said something,” he said. “But it wasn’t me.”
The Bills finished 8-8, giving them consecutive non-losing seasons for the first time since 2000 as they missed the playoffs for the 16th straight year, the NFL’s longest current streak of futility.
“Obviously, our goals were set a lot higher than this,” Ryan said. “There’s a lot of teams that’ll mail it in, but this team certainly wasn’t one of them.”
That was evident Sunday as the Bills relied on many reserves to get the job done. Already down top running back LeSean McCoy, they lost Karlos Williams to a knee injury in the first half and turned to Mike Gillislee the rest of the way.
After cornerback Ronald Darby aggravated a groin injury and had to leave the game, backup corners Leodis McKelvin, Mario Butler and Nickell Robey were left to defend Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, and they performed admirably. Undrafted rookie linebacker A.J. Tarpley recorded the third and final interception of Fitzpatrick in the game’s final minute.
Along with the fact that Sammy Watkins took an all-expenses-paid vacation to Revis Island and had a career-high 11 receptions for 136 yards, it added up to a decent ending for a team that couldn’t make the playoffs.
“I know we expected more wins this year,” Ryan said, “but we got the effort and the attitude right. We just got to find a way to get the wins.”