ORCHARD PARK — The Bills did not sit their starters this time.
Buffalo rolled over the Jets 27-17 to open the 2020 season at Bills Stadium, where the Jets were victorious here to end the 2019 season in a game the Bills rested many of their key players for the playoffs. This time, the Bills starters made the Jets look like the JV for most of the game.
Somehow, the Jets lost by just 10 points in a game in which felt like they got blown out. Only a series of Buffalo mistakes kept this from being uglier.
Not much went right for Gang Green.
They were outcoached and outplayed. They had penalties at the worst times. Sam Darnold looked like he took a step backward, not forward to start Year 3. Coach Adam Gase had few answers in his play-calling and questionable time management to end the first half. One of GM Joe Douglas’ top free-agent signees got benched in the first half. The defense took two quarters to figure out how to slow down Josh Allen. Running back Le’Veon Bell made a few plays then exited the game with a hamstring injury.
Other than that, it was a great opener.
The 0-1 Jets next play host to the defending NFC champion 49ers at MetLife Stadium.
Darnold’s performance may have been the most worrisome development. Yes, he has little help around him. But he looked jittery early, missing open receivers. Later, he made some questionable decisions, taking sacks when he should have thrown the ball away and throwing a brutal interception in the second quarter.
Darnold finished the game 21-of-35 for 215 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Allen carved up Gregg Wlliams’ defense early both with his arm and his legs in the first half. Allen threw for two touchdowns and ran for another. Cornerback Pierre Desir, who signed a one-year, $3.75 million contract this offseason with the Jets, was benched in the second quarter after two horrendous penalties and allowing a touchdown to John Brown.
Allen was 33-for-46 for 312 passing yards with two touchdowns. He also ran the ball 12 times for 59 yards and a touchdown. Allen did have two fumbles and some poor throws in the second half, but his hot start doomed the Jets.
The Jets looked noncompetitive in the first half. The offense could not move the ball, managing just 23 yards in the first quarter. The defense could not slow Allen and the Bills, allowing three touchdowns in their first four possessions. It was 21-0 and Jets fans were probably dreaming about the No. 1 pick next spring and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
The Jets did show some life, though. They mounted a 10-play, 70-yard drive to end the first half, although they had to settle for a Sam Ficken field goal after some questionable time management.
The Bills could not put the Jets away, allowing them to hang around with two fumbles and two missed field goals in the game. The Jets offense reached the end zone with 5:23 left in the third quarter when Darnold connected with Jamison Crowder on a screen pass that Crowder took 69 yards for the score to cut the Bills lead to 21-10.
That’s where the score remained early in the fourth quarter and the Jets had a chance to make things interesting. Instead, tight end Chris Herndon fumbled and the Bills recovered at the Jets’ 38. A Tyler Bass field goal gave the Bills a two-touchdown lead, which felt unsurmountable with how poorly the Jets offense performed. Bass added another field goal late to stretch the Bills lead to 17.
The Jets scored a cosmetic touchdown with a minute left when Josh Adams plunged in from the 2-yard line.