Patriots

Bills' AFC East standing damaged in 34-21 loss to Jets

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Bills' AFC East standing damaged in 34-21 loss to Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There was one team that looked like a playoff contender Thursday night. It wasn't the Buffalo Bills.

Buffalo's pursuit of AFC East kingpin New England was stymied by the New York Jets, who controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides in a 34-21 win that never was close in the second half.

Matt Forte ran for two touchdowns four days after complaining the Jets didn't run the ball enough, and an overwhelming defense sacked Tyrod Taylor seven times.

"We played to what we do best," Forte said. "Our offensive line likes to come off the line straight ahead and hit guys in the mouth and wear guys out like that. I think we started to wear them out as the game went on, and you saw some runs pop here and there."

Buffalo (5-3) came in having scored 64 points in its last two wins, but self-destructed with turnovers and miscues. New York (4-5) snapped a three-game slide in which it held leads in each defeat.

"We've got a high ceiling," defensive tackle Leonard Williams said. "We showed we can get takeaways, we showed we can get sacks, we showed we can stop the run. This is our first game putting it all together in a complete game. I feel like now that we showed it and put in on film, we'll definitely challenge ourselves to keep progressing."

Forte scored on runs of 10 and 5 yards and had 14 carries for 77 yards. Augmenting that was Bilal Powell with a 51-yard burst and 74 yards on nine carries. Quarterback Josh McCown got in on the fun with a 10-yard scramble to open the scoring, and New York rushed for 194 yards overall.

Jordan Jenkins had two of the Jets' sacks as they never allowed Buffalo's offense to get on track.

Indeed, mistakes were the Bills' trademark.

"We came into their house and they just outplayed us," Taylor said. "They were really aggressive today and played to their strengths.

"We have to stop the negative plays. Tonight we had turnovers on offense and that's not our style of play."

Buffalo made a key error on New York's second touchdown drive. Cedric Thornton sacked McCown, but grabbed his face mask. The 15-yard penalty, which followed a 20-yard pass to Jermaine Kearse and a 22-yard run by Forte, led to Robby Anderson beating double coverage for a 25-yard TD reception.

Forte's 10-yard run made it 24-7 and came one play after Powell broke four tackles on his 51-yard jaunt that featured slick moves and plenty of speed.

The Bills hurt themselves further when Nick O'Leary fumbled on a strange play. The tight end caught Taylor's third-down pass and fell to the ground untouched. He delayed, heard no whistle, and got up. But the ball then was stripped by Marcus Maye and recovered by fellow rookie safety Jamal Adams.

Adding to the miscues, Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for mouthing off to an official - during a timeout, no less - on the ensuing Jets drive.

Taylor also fumbled when sacked for the sixth time, and Forte's 5-yard TD run followed. And even when the Bills recovered a late onside kick, they were flagged for offside.

New York opened the scoring - the fourth straight game it has led early - after some strong defense pinned Buffalo near its goal line. A punt set up the Jets near midfield and they used eight plays to score.

McCown, looking very spry for a 38-year-old QB, went in untouched around the left side on a scramble for a 7-0 Jets lead.

Buffalo matched that, aided by Taylor's 18-yard scramble on third down. Rookie Zay Jones caught his first pro TD, an 11-yarder when he got wide open over the middle.

An offensive pass interference call on Austin Sefarian-Jenkins' touchdown catch negated the tight end's TD early in the second quarter and the Jets settled for Chandler Catanzaro's 45-yard field goal to retake the lead. He later hit a 32-yarder.

The Jets found a pass rush that was missing in action most of the year. They came in with 11 sacks, which was last among teams that had played eight games.

Buffalo scored two late touchdowns to make the final margin less lopsided.

"We were outplayed fundamentally. We weren't very good," coach Sean McDermott said.

J-E-T-S

Fireman Ed, once the team's unofficial cheerleader, led the J-E-T-S chant for the first time this season. It got pretty loud, too, even though there were several thousand empty seats at MetLife Stadium.

INJURIES

Bills: Jones, who was having a fine first half with four catches for 40 yards and a touchdown, was tripped by cornerback Buster Skrine and injured his right leg and was helped off. Jones, Buffalo's second-round draft pick, returned for the second half, but aggravated the leg. ... Running back Taiwan Jones hurt his left arm in a scramble for a fourth-quarter onside kick.

Jets: WR Jeremy Kerley left in the first quarter with an ankle injury. LB Bruce Carter (hamstring) was sidelined in the second half.

UP NEXT

Bills: Host New Orleans on Nov. 12.

Jets: Visit Tampa Bay on Nov. 12.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Patriots-Dolphins injury report: Tom Brady sits out with Achilles injury

Patriots-Dolphins injury report: Tom Brady sits out with Achilles injury

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski both sat out of the entirety of Wednesday's practice at Gillette Stadium. 

Brady is dealing with an Achilles injury, per the injury report released by the Patriots. The Boston Herald has reported that Brady will play despite the issue. It's unclear when exactly Brady suffered the injury, but Brady was hit low by Raiders pass-rusher Khalil Mack in the fourth quarter on Sunday, and Mack was called for a roughing-the-passer penalty.

Gronkowski, like teammate David Andrews, is dealing with an illness. Patrick Chung, who left Sunday's game briefly, has an ankle issue. 

Here's the full injury report for both the Patriots and Dolphins . . . 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
C David Andrews (illness)
QB Tom Brady (Achilles)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle)
S Patrick Chung (ankle)
TE Rob Gronkowski (illness)
WR Chris Hogan (shoulder)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
WR Danny Amendola (knee)
TE Marellus Bennett (shoulder/hamstring)
DT Malcom Brown (ankle)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)

MIAMI DOLPHINS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
LB Stephone Anthony (quadriceps)
G Jermon Bushrod (foot)
QB Jay Cutler (concussion)
DE William Hayes (back)
T Laremy Tunsill (illness)

FULL PARTICIPATION
RB Senorise Perry (knee)
S Michael Thomas (knee)

 

Curran: Randy Moss better not have to wait for Hall call

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Curran: Randy Moss better not have to wait for Hall call

If you’re a Hall of Famer, you’re a Hall of Famer. The notion that a great player’s candidacy has to have some kind of gestation period before it can be deemed induction-worthy is just plain cruel.

And if you think “cruel” is an overstatement, consider Ken Stabler. Three times a Hall of Fame finalist, Snake had to croak before Pro Football Hall of Fame voters decided it was time to put him in Canton.

There are borderline guys whose candidacies need to marinate. There are players whose contributions to an era take on greater meaning as time passes. You could make the case Stabler was one of those.

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You could also make the case that too many HOF voters in each of the major sports get caught up in a “guardian at the gate” mentality, puffing out birdlike chests until they align with swollen stomachs and declaring an athlete’s not getting inducted on HIS watch.

Or until said athlete’s served time in purgatory and either begs for induction or says, “F--- it, I don’t care if I get in at this point anyway.

Which brings me to Terrell Owens and how his HOF candidacy will impact Randy Moss.

Moss was a better player than T.O. Historic. The second he entered the league in 1998, he was probably one of the five best players in the league at any position. Owens took a while. He didn’t make a Pro Bowl until his fifth NFL season.

Moss was a technician and a savant. Owens just wrestled the game to the ground with brute force.

When measuring what a player “means” to the NFL and its fans, a reasonable Moss comp is Allen Iverson. They were iconic. Owens? Dwight Howard. Where T.O. felt needy, desperate and narcissistic. Moss just didn’t GAF.

And that’s where some voters start to rub their hands together and scheme.

How can we exact revenge for perceived crimes against football and propriety? Make 'em sweat. Use incidents, moments and comments as cudgels and pound penance out of them.

Even though Moss was better than T.O., that doesn’t mean Owens is borderline. Owens is second in all-time yards (Moss is third), eighth in receptions (Moss is 15th), third in touchdowns (Moss is second) and was a five-time All-Pro (Moss was a four-time All-Pro).

The only justification for voters keeping T.O. out the past two years was that he was a prick.

Few – if any - of his ex-teammates say that he should be kept out of the HOF for that. But scores of people in the media, ex-players and league lobbyists do think he should be kept out. At least until he learns his lesson, or whatever.

Owens’ narcissism chewed at the fabric of franchises he was a part of, is the contention. That’s why he played for five teams. That’s why he only played in one Super Bowl. That’s why tears weren’t shed when he signed someplace else.

Moss also played for five teams. He also played in just one Super Bowl (like Owens, Moss’ ’07 Patriots lost though Moss – like Owens – did his part to win). And tears weren’t shed too often when Moss left either.

Check this Tom Brady quote from September 2010. It came just days before Moss began shooting his way out of New England because he was unhappy the team wouldn’t extend his deal.

"There's only one Randy Moss that will ever play this game," Brady said. "He's the greatest, probably, downfield receiver in the history of the NFL. Those catches that he makes, where you guys see he runs 65 yards down the field, you throw it and he just runs and catches it. That's impossible to do.And I ask him, 'How did you do that?' And he says, 'I don't know, man. I've been doing it for a long time.' He has some special skills that nobody's really gifted with." 

That weekend, Moss gave his “This probably will be my last year here as a Patriot…” press conference after a season-opening win over the Bengals. The next week, he caught two of 10 passes that Brady threw his way in a loss to the Jets. One of the passes was a touchdown pass where he blew past Darrelle Revis and made a one-handed pull. Two of the other passes were picked off and Moss was non-competitive. After that, he was effectively frozen out of the offense and was traded after Week 4, less than a month after Brady accurately described him as the greatest downfield receiver in the history of the NFL.

Stuff like that, nudging a traffic cop for a half-block with his car stating “I’ll play when I want to play…,” fake-mooning the Lambeau Stadium crowd, saying he still smoked weed “once in a blue moon” – all those occasions will be aggregated and used as cudgels used to beat down Moss’ candidacy just as the driveway situps are used to beat down T.O.’s.

Whole bunch of voters will hand-wring about what it all meeeaaaannnnnsssss if they sweep Moss in on the first ballot after keeping T.O. out. And then wonder if T.O. should go in before Moss, after Moss or with him. Meanwhile, they’ll rush to get Ray Lewis in line for his gold jacket with nary a word about disappearing white suits 

The whole “between the lines is all that matters” defense.

Randy Moss belongs in the Hall of Fame. ASAP.