Geno Smith 1, E.J. Manuel 0.
Smith, a rookie, threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns and Bilal Powell rushed for 149 yards as the New York Jets overcame 20 penalties to beat the Buffalo Bills 27-20 Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The Bills struggled throughout the game, especially in the first half, to get anything going offensively. Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel threw for 243 yards and a touchdown, but he missed several throws and had trouble avoiding the Jets' pass rush.
Here is this week's Buffalo Bills report card:
GRADING THE UNITS
OFFENSE - D
The Bills offense had many problems Sunday and it all starts with the quarterback.
This was the first game that E.J. Manuel looked like a rookie. He threw a lot of fades in key situations that never had a chance. The throws were either too far down the field or out of play. As a quarterback, you need to give your receivers a chance to make a play. Manuel had trouble doing that Sunday.
For the third straight week, the Bills' rushing attack wasn't much of a threat. Fred Jackson had a 59-yard run, but that was the only time the Bills running game really had an impact. Of course, if you take away the six rushes by E.J. Manuel (most of which were really passing plays, but he was forced to scramble), the Bills only had 19 rushes. Jackson and C.J. Spiller should be a key part of the offense. They were in weeks 1 and 2. They weren't factors this week.
One thing this game exposed was how weak the offensive line is. The Jets sacked Manuel eight times and one of the reasons the running game couldn't get going was poor blocking.
The Bills offense didn't have its best game Sunday. It's not going to get any easier next Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
DEFENSE - D+
It was a tale of two halves for the Bills defense.
In the first half, the Jets opened the game with an 80-yard touchdown drive capped off by a Geno Smith touchdown run. After Smith threw an interception to Bills safety Jim Leonhard on one drive in the second quarter, the Jets came back on the next drive with another 80-yard touchdown drive. (The touchdown was the first time Bills corner Justin Rogers got burned Sunday.) The Jets added a field goal at the end of the half and took a 17-6 lead into halftime.
In the second half, the Bills played better. Kiko Alonso picked off a pass to set up a Dan Carpenter field goal. The Bills defense also stuffed the Jets on a fourth down run to force a turnover on downs.
But here are two negatives for the Bills. They didn't get a sack Sunday. I thought they would pressure Smith more, but they didn't. Smith took a few hits, but he never took a sack. Also, the Bills gave up 513 yards, including another 100-yard rushing performance.
It was an up and down day for the Bills defense. The unit made a few good plays, but they also gave up some big plays to the Jets offense.
SPECIAL TEAMS - B+
One of the few bright spots for the Bills was the special teams unit. Kicker Dan Carpenter made all four of his field goal attempts, including a 43-yarder in the third quarter.
Punter Shawn Powell also had a good game for the Bills. Powell was busy Sunday. He had seven punts and averaged 51 yards per kick.
The special teams unit has been solid in the first three weeks. While they haven't had many opportunities in the return game, the kicking game has been good enough to keep the Bills in games. This week was an example of that. Carpenter and Powell are getting the job done.
COACHING - C-
There were some ups and downs this week, but I'm going to focus on two moments where I thought the Bills coaching staff didn't perform (and prepare) well.
On offense, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's play calls were questionable. He relied on the passing game in the second half, even though the Jets never had more than a two-possession lead. That was a lot for rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel to handle. He was already facing tons of pressure from the Jets defense throughout the game and his coaches put more pressure on him by taking away the running game. It was a silly decision.
On defense, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine needed to make adjustments and provide some help over the top for Justin Rogers. Surely, he has to know that Rogers is a weak corner. But the adjustments weren't made and Rogers was burned -- again -- for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Overall, I don't think it was a horrible game for the coaching staff. They definitely don't look as bad as Rex Ryan, who blew challenge opportunities and whose team committed 20 penalties. But they have some adjustments and improvements to make before the Bills play the Ravens next week.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
OFFENSE: None. This isn't one of those "Oh, he was rushing to get this done and didn't have time to pick an offensive player of the game." No, it's not that. There wasn't a good offensive player Sunday. E.J. Manuel struggled. None of the running backs shined. The receivers were quiet for parts of the game. And the offensive line was horrible. So there you go.
DEFENSE: Kiko Alonso. Alonso had another good game. He registered eight tackles and an interception in the second half that set up a field goal. He's a strong presence in the middle of the field for the Bills defense.
Justin Rogers. I really don't know if there's any hope for the former seventh-round pick. Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill burned him for a touchdown in the first half and Santonio Holmes did the same on the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.
It was a nightmare game for Rogers, but it wasn't anything we didn't see coming. He's not very good in man-to-man coverage and this isn't the first game he's been beat for big gains or touchdowns. Honestly, I'm surprised he's still on the team. But with injuries to the secondary, he's been put in a tough spot.
STAT OF THE GAME
Jets commit 20 penalties. It was the Jets, not the Bills, that committed 20 penalties Sunday. Why is this the stat of the game? Because you don't expect a team to commit 20 penalties and win a football game. But the Bills played poorly and the penalties didn't hurt the Jets as much as they should have.
STAT OF THE GAME II
Touches for C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. This week, Jackson and Spiller were less involved and it showed. While Spiller left with an injury, Jackson was almost nonexistent in the second half. The two combined for 22 touches Sunday. They need to be a bigger part of the offense if the Bills are going to win.
The Bills (1-2) will return to western New York next week to host the Baltimore Ravens (2-1). Kickoff is at 1 p.m. Sunday. The game will be televised on CBS.