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Uncertain offseasons begin for Jets, Bills

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Uncertain offseasons begin for Jets, Bills

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Their disappointing seasons having finally come to a close, no one was ready to discuss what changes might be in store for the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.

``Let's talk about today, and let's talk about tomorrow or next week at a later date,'' Bills coach Chan Gailey said after a 28-9 season-ending win over the Jets on Sunday.

Gailey's on the hot seat after two consecutive 6-10 finishes and a 16-32 record in three seasons in Buffalo. And there are questions being raised as to whether general manager Buddy Nix's job is secure.

It's no different in New York for Jets' one-time franchise quarterback Mark Sanchez, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and general manager Mike Tannenbaum. And don't forget Tim Tebow, who might also be on his way out after a season in which the high-profile backup created more headlines than game-deciding plays.

Jets coach Rex Ryan was in no mood to look beyond Sunday.

``As much as I hate talking about this Buffalo game, that's where I'd like to keep the questions,'' Ryan said.

Deferring the tough conversations to another time won't make the uncertainty go away for two AFC East rivals, who opened the season with much higher aspirations only to both close with 6-10 records. It's Buffalo that, under tiebreaking rules, will finish last in the division for a fifth consecutive year, while having already extended the league's longest active playoff drought to 13 seasons.

``Not a lot of jubilation,'' Gailey said of team's mood. ``Everybody knew we had won the ballgame, and they were happy. But it was not excited.''

Gailey's status has been in question since the Bills went into a tailspin following a 3-3 start. Their win over the Jets snapped a three-game skid.

Despite an NBC report that he could be fired as early as Monday, Gailey is sticking with a business-as-usual plan.

On Monday, he's scheduled to address his players, meet with his coaching staff and then hold his annual season-ending news conference with reporters.

The decision on Gailey and Nix is in the hands of Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson, who has remained silent all season. Wilson did attend the team's holiday party in Buffalo on Friday, before returning home to Detroit.

Bills players are bracing for changes.

``There's going to be change, and we all know that,'' said Stevie Johnson, who finished with 111 yards receiving in becoming the first Bills player to surpass 1,000 yards in three straight years.

Safety Bryan Scott returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown. C.J. Spiller had 59 yards rushing and scored the go-ahead touchdown late in the second quarter on a 66-yard catch and run. Brad Smith scored on a 4-yard run, and Tashard Choice on 13-yard run for the Bills, who ended a six-game losing streak against the Jets.

The Jets' offense was once again the team's downfall. After opening the season with a 48-24 win over Buffalo, they closed it by combining for 60 points in their final five games.

Sanchez went 17 of 35 for 205 yards passing, while throwing his 18th interception and also losing a fumble. That was reminiscent of his last start, two weeks ago, when he turned the ball over five times in a 14-10 loss at Tennessee.

``We just didn't execute, and it starts with the quarterback,'' the 2009 first-round draft pick said. ``I have to be better. When you're inconsistent, it's tough to win in this league.''

The Jets trailed 14-9 at the half despite gaining more yards than Buffalo (204-132), getting more first downs (13-4) and holding a whopping edge in time of possession (23:15-6:45).

Sanchez was supposed to be on the bench on Sunday, and only got the start after third-stringer Greg McElroy complained of concussion-like symptoms on Thursday.

``I know I'm better than this,'' said Sanchez. ``I'm contracted to be here. And I want to be here.''

This is not the finish many expected for the Bills, either. They also opened the season with expectations of being a bona fide contender after their defense was supposed to have been improved with the addition of high-priced defensive end Mario Williams.

``The win doesn't change how the season went as far as reaching our team goals,'' safety George Wilson said. ``But, at the end of the day, we're able to go into the offseason on a winning note.''

NOTES: The Bills had the sticker ``WWFD'' on the back of their helmets, honoring two West Webster Fire Department firefighters who were ambushed while responding to a fire in the Rochester, N.Y., suburb on Monday. ... Jets PK Nick Folk kicked three field goals, including a 47-yarder, and also had a 30-yard attempt blocked by DT Marcell Dareus. ... Bills PK Rian Lindell missed wide left from 50 and 46 yards.

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Lamar Jackson received congratulatory postgame texts from Doug Williams, Randall Cunningham

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USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson received congratulatory postgame texts from Doug Williams, Randall Cunningham

Lamar Jackson's first NFL start against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday will go down as one of the most memorable days of his career.

Going 13-of-19 for 150 yards in the air while rushing for 117 yards on 27 attempts is a pretty solid day for a rookie quarterback

With several days to reflect, one of Jackson's favorite parts of the 24-21 win was the congratulatory texts he received from two former quarterbacks.

"I got a text from Doug Williams and Randall Cunningham congratulating me," Jackson said Wednesday. "So, that was pretty cool."

Williams, who became the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins in 1987, and Randall Cunningham, who had a long career with the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, and Ravens, are seen as trailblazers by Jackson.

The rookie QB noted that he has been in contact with the two prior to earning the starting job in Week 11.

"Those are the guys that paved the way for us," Jackson added.

"Without those guys, you know, we probably wouldn't be in the situation we are [in]. So, hats of to those guys. Them congratulating me, from the GOATS, I'm like, 'yeah, that's cool.'

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Capitals return home still short-handed, but with momentum after strong road trip

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USA Today Sports Images

Capitals return home still short-handed, but with momentum after strong road trip

The Capitals return home to play the Chicago Blackhawks (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington) after a successful road trip (3-1-0), but will still be without forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie (upper-body injuries), who remain day-to-day, according to coach Todd Reirden.   

Here are four things to watch:

Holtby’s back

After missing three games with an upper-body injury of his own, Caps goalie Braden Holtby was thrown into the fire down 4-2 at Montreal on Monday. But he played lights out and matched Habs goalie Carey Price save-for-save, finishing with 22 as Washington rallied for a 5-4 overtime win. Holtby now feels good enough as he will start against the Blackhawks tonight. In his past four appearances, Holtby has stopped 116 of 122 shots on goal.

New-look Blackhawks

Chicago’s slow start cost Joel Quenneville his job on Nov. 6. An NHL coach getting fired is rarely news. But when it’s a guy who’s been in his post for more than a decade and has won three Stanley Cups it is still jarring. The results are mixed since Jeremy Colliton took over. Chicago lost his first two games behind the bench, but is 2-0-2 in its past four games. That’s a small step in the right direction, but the Blackhawks are in sixth place in the Central Division.

Wilsonnnnn!!!!!

This was supposed to be the day Tom Wilson returned to the lineup after his 20-game suspension. An arbitrator cut that short last week so Wilson played on all four games of the road trip and had a goal and four assists. Not a bad start. Wednesday he gets his first home game of the year and what should be a raucous reception from the faithful at Capital One Arena. 

Old mates

On Monday, the crowd at Bell Centre booed former Canadien Lars Eller, who promptly took the puck up ice and scored the game-winning goal in overtime. It was a great moment for a player who felt Montreal gave up on him way too soon when trading him to the Capitals. Michal Kempny knows how he feels. 

Languishing on the bench for most of last season in Chicago as a healthy scratch – he played just 31 games - Kempny sees his old team for the first time since helping Washington win a Stanley Cup. Quenneville is gone, but the defenseman would love to show the rest of the organization trading him was a mistake. 

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