The View from the Press Box: Bills vs. Jets

By Michael-Louis Ingram
Updated: November 1, 2007

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A division struggle that became almost as big an effort to watch as it was to play.

The press box is missing a few of the usual suspects as the Jets 1-6 record seems to indicate their effort is beneath their notice. I’m in the first press row, near the East End’s 30 yard line.

Bills win the toss, and from their 24 march downfield as rookie Trent Edwards opens up at quarterback, in spite of healthy starter J.P. Losman back on board.

A 16-play, well mixed drive by Edwards stalls as Lindell kicks a 30-yard field goal, eating up 10 minutes.

Jets return the favor as they pick their way downfield from their 13 as Chad Pennington mixes his usual dinks and dunk passes; with occasional rushes by Thomas Jones.

15 plays later Jets are knocking on the door at the Buffalo 15, but instead of going for the end zone, Pennington swings a pass in the left flat to Jones for 6 yards on third down. Nugent is good from 27 yards out, and Jets have consumed 9:25 of clock to tie.

Both offenses beat up the turf between their respective 30 yard lines until halftime.

The game is flying in terms of time elapsed, and Pennington’s play selection is not going over with the home green and white.

Jets set it off at their 33, but the line play is horrible. The line seems slow to react to the Bills’ stunts — something ex-Jet Pete Kendall was good at noticing — in calling changes at the line.

Pennington is sacked by DE Aaron Schobel, who beats guard Adrien Clarke on a stunt, and the boo-birds are more prominent now. Jets eventually go 0-3 on drives in the quarter, and now a voice says out loud what I’ve been thinking about Pennington — when the hell is the guy gonna throw downfield?

Actually, through the binoculars, it looks like Pennington hasn’t even looked downfield. His longest pass was a catch-and-run for 21 yards, and he’s 10-16 for only 74 yards. Everything is either a swing or screen, or a sideline pattern.

Buffalo is faring no better, as Edwards has thrown an interception and some decent Jet pressure on defense has confused the rookie into some mistakes.

Late third quarter, Losman comes in for Edwards, and in the tradition of Daryle Lamonica (before he became Oakland’s Mad Bomber) relief pitches the Bills to some positive movement before the end of the quarter.

With Losman in, Bills utilize their go-to receiver Lee Evans, who didn’t even get a sniff while Edwards was running the show.

In the final quarter, Losman works Buffalo downfield between counter punches by tailback Marshawn Lynch, who toted the piggy for 80 yards on 21 carries. Lindell is good from 40, and it’s 6-3.

The box is silent as the booing gets louder outside.

Jets seem to be moving with some urgency after the field goal, but Pennington throws incomplete on third-and-3 from the Bills 41. Jets opt to punt, and punter Graham pins the Bills back with a good effort.

Buffalo starts out from their 3 yard line. After three straight runs by Lynch get Buffalo up to their 15, Losman throws a deep out pattern to his main man Evans.

Evans goes up with Jet defender Darrelle Revis and snatches the ball from him; then is off into the wild green yonder for an 85-yard touchdown bomb.

The pass by Losman is only the second ball the thrown farther than 30 yards all day — both by Buffalo quarterbacks.

Finally, with less than four minutes remaining, Kellen Clemens comes in, to a smattering of cheers. But playing catch-up won’t work today as Clemens overthrows the other Jet ‘quarterback’ Brad Smith, and his pass is picked off by Terrence McGee.

The post-game press conference is Mangini saying the pass play leading to the game-clinching touchdown could have gone either way, and that he was still unsure that Chad Pennington would remain the starter at quarterback.

As to whether Brad Smith will get a chance at quarterback, all I can say is — stay tuned.