AFC EAST: Taylor leads Bills to win over Jets, 21-12


AFC EAST: Taylor leads Bills to win over Jets, 21-12

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The new-look Buffalo Bills might be better than advertised under rookie head coach Sean McDermott.

The Jets, however, opened the season playing well below even their meager expectations.

Tyrod Taylor showed no lingering signs of a concussion that sidelined him for two weeks by throwing two touchdowns in a 21-12 win on Sunday. The Bills never trailed after opening the scoring on Taylor's 1-yard touchdown pass to Charles Clay 3 1/2 minutes into the second quarter.

Andre Holmes also scored on a 1-yard catch and Mike Tolbert scored on a 1-yard run.

Buffalo's defense had three interceptions, including linebacker Ramon Humber picking off Josh McCown's pass to thwart a 2-point conversion in the third quarter. Safety Micah Hyde sealed the victory by intercepting McCown at Buffalo's 41 to end the Jets' final series.

"It was big for coach McDermott and big for us as a team," Taylor said, who completed 16 of 28 for 224 yards and an interception.

McDermott was pleased with the performance from a team that featured just 26 players who had been on the roster a year ago. And yet the former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator was also quick to temper his emotions.

"This is one win, let's keep things in perspective," said McDermott, who was hired in January after Rex Ryan was fired in the final week of last season. "I'm extremely proud of it. That said, we've got a lot of work to do."

For one week at least, the Bills can lay claim to leading the AFC East after the Patriots lost to Kansas City on Thursday and the Miami Dolphins' opener was postponed due to Hurricane Irma.

The Jets face an uphill climb to be respectable.

New York couldn't run and couldn't stop the run, which were supposed to be two of the team's strengths.

The running back tandem of Bilal Powell and Matt Forte combined for 38 yards rushing. The defense gave up 190 yards rushing, including 110 to LeSean McCoy, who consistently beat New York's defenders around the edge.

"Missed assignments. Missed assignments," coach Todd Bowles said, repeating the phrase on several occasions. "We're not going to hang our heads. We're going to get ready and not make the same mistakes next week."

The lack of a ground game placed far too much emphasis on the 38-year-old McCown to produce with a patchwork group of receivers that included Jermaine Kearse and tight end Will Tye, neither of whom was on the team 10 days ago.

McCown refused to provide any excuses or buy into the offseason narrative pegging the Jets for pulling the plug on this season in order to build through next year's draft.

"That's not how we approach it," McCown said. "We're disappointed absolutely, but we plan on responding."

McCown went 26 of 39 for 187 yards in opening his 15th NFL season by extending his personal losing streak to eight games. The skid dates to Oct. 11, 2015, when he led Cleveland to a 33-30 win over Baltimore. McCown is 1-17 in his last 18 starts.

McCown scored New York's lone touchdown on a 1-yard run to briefly cut Buffalo's lead to 14-12 with two minutes left in the third quarter.


Buffalo squandered two scoring opportunities in the first half. Taylor's pass to Clay in the end zone glanced off the tight end's hands and was intercepted by Juston Burris. The cornerback returned it 48 yards, and went down when he bumped into his teammate. Burris then fumbled, but was ruled down by contact, as he had a knee down when hit from behind by Bills center Eric Wood.

Newly acquired kicker Stephen Hauschka also missed a 46-yard attempt wide left.

The Jets converted 4 of 14 third-down chances and managed 11 first downs - and just four in the first half.


Jets: WR Jeremy Kerley will have to wait to mark his return with New York. Kerley re-signed with the Jets on Tuesday after being cut by the San Francisco 49ers. With QB Bryce Petty still nursing a knee injury, Christian Hackenberg served as the backup.

Bowles said Petty's knee injury had nothing to do with the depth chart, noting the quarterback practiced all week. "That's a coaching decision," Bowles said.

Bills: Backup DE Jerel Worthy did not play as he is still recovering from a concussion sustained in Buffalo's preseason finale.


Jets: TE Eric Tomlinson did not return after hurting an elbow in the second quarter.

Bills: CB E.J. Gaines did not return after hurting his left shoulder while assisting Lorenzo White in tackling Powell on an 11-yard run midway through the fourth quarter.


Jets: At Oakland on Sept. 17.

Bills: At Carolina on Sept. 17.

'Leprechaun' Gronk dropping more hints about future plans - sort of

'Leprechaun' Gronk dropping more hints about future plans - sort of

Rob Gronkowski, decked out in his finest St. Patrick's Day duds over the weekend in Nashville, reportedly tried to shed some light on his NFL future.

Of course, while Gronk was doing Gronk things, he told a Patriots fan one thing and a reporter another.

Breech is an NFL writer for His father is former Cincinnati Bengals kicker Jim Breech. And the "69ers" aren't a real team.


AFC East is starting to prepare for post-Brady life

AFC East is starting to prepare for post-Brady life

The Patriots' "direction" never really changes. They're always "going for it" because they're always one of the best teams in the league. 

The rest of the AFC East is usually in flux. The other teams range from hoping for 8-8 to trying to bottom out in hopes of a high draft pick. Yet right now, it seems the stars are aligning and that the Jets, Bills and Dolphins all have the mindset: Change things now and be ready to pounce once Brady is gone. 

The Jets traded up to No. 3 on Saturday, assuring themselves a chance at one of this draft's top quarterbacks. The Bills, with picks Nos. 12 and 22, are expected by pundits to make a similar move up. The Dolphins, fresh off cutting bait with Ndamukong Suh in an attempt at a culture change, have the 11th pick and could use it on a quarterback to either push or replace Ryan Tannehill. 

None of the three teams are close to pushing the Patriots as long as Brady's around, even with the Bills coming off a season in which they reached the playoffs. Yet there's a two-or-three-year plan on which all three teams could have designs: Get the quarterback now, build around him and be in a good situation by the time Brady is done. 

We've seen these teams try to rebuild before during the Brady Era, with only limited success. Mark Sanchez worked out better in New York than anyone could have initially expected, but that success lasted way shorter than any believers could have hoped. Now, it seems they try again. 

Over in Buffalo, the end of the Tyrod Taylor era hardly means the beginning of the Nathan Peterman era. Those two first-rounders should easily be able to get the Bills into the top five, and they've also got two second-rounders and two third-rounders. Hell, they have the pieces to get to No. 1 if Cleveland is bold enough to pass on their choice of Darnold/Rosen/Allen/Mayfield. 

The Dolphins are in the more interesting spot. Tannehill missed all of last season and he's 29. If you're six years into your career and your team still isn't totally sure if you can be one of the better QBs in the league, you probably aren't one of the better QBs in the league. At the very least, Lamar Jackson should be there at No. 11. They could also trade up. 

At the start of last season, the Patriots had far and away the two best QBs in the AFC East. Now, it stands to reason that at least two of their divisional opponents (the Jets and Bills) will come away with what they hope are franchise quarterbacks. And if any of these guys hit, the Pats will have gone from the best QB situation in the NFL to seeing some actual competition waiting for them by the time their own quarterback is done. 

Of course, all three of these teams usually suck at everything, so it shouldn't be a big deal.