Big-buck Bills a bust in opener 0
Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills reacts during their season opener against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on September 9, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images/AFP
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Here's what the Buffalo Bills got for their nearly quarter-billion dollars of off-season spending, in their odoriferous 48-28 smackdown at the fists of the New York Jets on Sunday.
Three ugly interceptions from Ryan Fitzpatrick, and many other bad throws.
Three short, insignificant catches from Stevie Johnson before garbage time.
Fifteen yards from running back Fred Jackson before he left early with a banged-up knee.
And most disappointing -- and surprising -- of all? Zero sacks, and zero impact whatsoever, from the Bills' new supposed pass-rush demons, $100-million man Mario Williams and $19.5-million man Mark Anderson.
The Bills awarded the above five players a combined $224 million in off-season contracts, $104 million of it guaranteed. They were all big-money busts in Game 1, Jackson's left-knee injury notwithstanding.
Pity the poor Bills fan.
All that buildup since March. All that excitement. All that hope, that the franchise finally had turned the corner and into respectability and playoff contention for the first time since the '90s.
"It's unacceptable and it's embarrassing, and unfortunately it happened in the first game," said Fitzpatrick, who completed most of his 18 passes (for only 195 yards) on three meaningless, late scoring drives, all after the Jets zoomed to a 41-7 lead midway through the third quarter.
New York didn't even need to employ Tim Tebow much in his highly anticipated auxiliary offence. He was a non-factor.
The Jets were in control practically from the opening kickoff. They led 21-0 before 18 minutes had elapsed, on two touchdown passes from a sharp Mark Sanchez, and a 68-yard punt-return score from Jeremy Kerley.
The Bills provided not a shred of hope in this season opener that they will be anything but the team that lost eight of their last nine games in 2011.
And the big-money players were the biggest letdowns.
Fitzpatrick's understanding with his wide receivers was sorely lacking. He was late on throws, not just the picks but even ones that he completed. He looked nothing like the quarterback needed to take this team to the next level.
Not that Fitzpatrick got much help -- with this huge asterisk: backup running back C.J. Spiller gained 169 yards on 14 carries.
Whereas he was dynamite, the entire Buffalo defence was a dud.
Sanchez had the time he needed to throw on all but maybe one dropback, late, when Mario Williams actually broke through and perhaps hurried him.
Otherwise, the Jets offensive line of D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Matt Slauson, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore and Austin Howard formed a solid wall.
What Howard did, particularly, was nothing short of amazing. The 25-year-old was promoted to starting right tackle only two-and-a-half weeks ago. This was his second career start, and his first at right tackle.
"I'm ecstatic that we got the W, that's the most important thing," Howard said. "The whole offensive line had a great game. We made holes for the running backs, and kept Mark clean. You have to be proud."
Slauson told me that Howard was so effective, the Jets changed their pass-blocking schemes -- which won't soon end up on Williams' resume.
"At the start of the game, we were sliding to Austin's side," Slauson said. "But after a couple of plays, we saw he didn't need any help. So we just went with normal stuff.
"Austin did exactly what we expected him to. We expected to not hear his name, or Mario's name (called over the PA)."
For his part, Super Mario was super peeved with the replacement officials afterward. He suggested the Jets weren't using legal tactics against him.
"Pass blocking doesn't include hands to the face," he said. "When someone tells the officials that, and they just walk away, or they don't call it, that is disheartening.
"(Howard) is a hands-to-the-face guy and they don't call it, so he will continue to do it."
Williams was credited with only one tackle. Anderson's stats line was all zeros.
The Bills' secondary was terrible, too. The Jets' WR trio of Santonio Holmes, rookie Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley -- not exactly the 1980s 49ers, folks -- got open all the time.
The Bills defence couldn't even force the Jets to punt until 14:20 remained.
The only bright side for the Buffalo Bills, besides Spiller?
Fifteen more games even half as putrid as Sunday's, and they'll maybe be able to draft USC quarterback Matt Barkley first overall next April.