An extended offseason and empty promises did little to improve the New York Jets’ offense and 2020 debut on Sunday afternoon.
Against the Buffalo Bills’ stellar defense that carried over from last season, the Jets were thoroughly beaten in Week 1 27-17 while they were outgained 404-254.
The Jets’ offense was M.I.A. for a majority of the day, as Sam Darnold’s start to his third year in the league and his second under Adam Gase was less than promising.
Gang Green’s franchise quarterback was limited to just 215 yards on 21-of-35 passing with one touchdown and one interception.
He was outdueled by Josh Allen — the young Bills quarterback drafted the same year as Darnold who threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns while adding an additional 57 on the ground with another score.
The Jets’ defense came up with the first big play of the season during its first appearance, cutting a Bills drive short when Marcus Maye forced an Allen fumble after he got past the first-down marker down to New York’s 27-yard-line.
The loose ball popped right into the arms of Bradley McDougald to get the Jets possession after an opening three-and-out, but Darnold and Co. couldn’t do anything with it as they punted it away quickly.
There would be no stopping of the Bills on their next drive, as Allen took Buffalo 52 yards in seven plays to get the hosts on the board, capping things off with an easy two-yard touchdown rush on what was his fifth rush attempt of the corner.
So much for trying to rush less this season, which he promised he would do during the offseason.
Meanwhile, the Jets remained grounded against Buffalo’s immovable defense, gaining just four yards over their first three possessions while Darnold had no passing yards.
Allen’s legs and escapability continued to plague the Jets as a 16-yard rush off a pass interference call, a scrambling 20-yard reception to John Brown, and a missed sack led to Buffalo’s second score of the day with 2:32 left in the first — an Allen connection to rookie Zack Moss from four yards out for a 14-0 lead.
Buffalo went up 21 just inside seven minutes to go in the second when the Jets defense went to sleep on a 2nd-and-14, allowing John Brown to go untouched for a 17-yard score off a little screen pass from Allen.
Things only got worse for the Jets when Darnold was picked off by Matt Milano just moments later. It was a poor decision by the third-year quarterback, who rolled out under pressure and threw a lob across his body that was all-too-easy for the Buffalo defender to pick off.
Allen’s second fumble of the day gave the Jets some life out of nothing. After the Bills quarterback’s giveaway on New York’s 14-yard-line, the Jets found some rare offensive momentum, driving down to the Buffalo 13-yard-line with four seconds left to set up a Sam Ficken field goal as time expired to get the Jets on the board.
Off that momentum, the offense continued to gain its legs in the second half when Darnold’s short pass to Jamison Crowder went 69 yards for a touchdown, cutting the Jets’ deficit to 11 with 5:10 to go in the third.
It was sandwiched by a pair of missed field goals from Buffalo kicker Tyler Bass, both attempts inside 40 yards.
The Jets couldn’t do much else with Buffalo’s miscues. Chris Herndon fumbled near midfield 30 seconds into the fourth quarter to slow New York’s comeback hopes down.
Buffalo would finally tack on a successful field goal after driving down to the Jets’ 4-yard-line — a 22-yard chip shot suitable enough for the struggling Bass.
Another Bass field goal from 19 yards out made it a three-possession game and effectively ended any chance of the Jets pulling off the impossible, though a Josh Adams two-yard touchdown inside the final minute provided minor consolation for the scoreline.