AFC East: 2013 Week 6 Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Buffalo Bills

October, 13, 2013

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A few thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 27-24 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

What it means: The Bills couldn't overcome a rocky start by their defense, which allowed 284 yards in the first half. Buffalo got a solid performance from Thad Lewis, starting in place of an injured EJ Manuel, but the offense sputtered in overtime. The Bengals won the field position battle in the extra frame, winning the game on a 43-yard Mike Nugent field goal. Another tough home loss for the Bills, who dropped a similar game in Week 1 to the New England Patriots.

Lewis proves capable: Lewis, making his second career start, wasn't spectacular against a stout Bengals defense, but more than proved he should keep the job going forward. Lewis' first pass was a 47-yard completion, the Bills' longest offensive play this season, and he capped the opening drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Lewis finished 19-of-32 for 216 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, better than most of Manuel's performances this season. On the negative end, Lewis fumbled on a third-quarter scramble, which the Bengals turned into a touchdown.

Stock watch: Rising -- the punt unit (in regulation). The Bills swapped out second-year punter Shawn Powell for veteran Brian Moorman last week, a move that shored up a reeling punt unit. Moorman averaged 47 net yards on his four punts in regulation, two of which were downed inside the Bengals' 5-yard line. The longtime Bills punter received loud cheers when he stepped onto the field. However, Moorman's 51-yard fourth-quarter punt, with the Bills backed up against their end zone, was returned 29 yards by Brandon Tate, setting up the game-winning field goal.

Gilmore, Byrd quiet in returns: The Bills had two of their top defenders back, but neither made an impact in the game. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore played with a large club covering his injured left hand and struggled at times tackling. He rotated at cornerback with Aaron Williams. Meanwhile, safety Jairus Byrd was limited in his first game this season. Byrd served as the third safety behind Da'Norris Searcy and Jim Leonhard, who came away with the Bills' only interception of the game.

What's next: The Bills fall to 2-4 as they prepare for back-to-back road trips to face the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints to close out the first half of their season. After Sunday, the Bills will play just three more times at Ralph Wilson Stadium this season, and only twice before Dec. 22.

Rapid Reaction: New York Jets

October, 13, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Jets' 19-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium:

What it means: The Jets (3-3) can't handle prosperity. They've had just one two-game winning streak since late in the 2011 season. They needed to beat the struggling Steelers (1-4) because their schedule is about to increase in degree of difficulty, as they face the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints in consecutive weeks. The Jets, coming off a short week, were physically handled by the well-rested Steelers.

Stock watch: Let's put a hold on Geno Smith's Hall of Fame bust. After riding high for a week after last Monday night's electric performance, he was jarred back to reality by a tough Pittsburgh defense. Smith threw two interceptions, both in the red zone. The first was a poor decision into triple coverage for the Steelers' first takeaway of the season. Smith also failed to get his wide receivers involved in the offense. Clearly, he missed TE Kellen Winslow (suspended). You knew this wouldn't be easy. Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau had two weeks to prepare, and his game plan made the Jets look Tony Sparano-like. LeBeau is 16-2 against rookie quarterbacks (since 2004) for a reason.

Conservative Jets: Rex Ryan set a bad tone early when he opted for a chip-shot field goal on a fourth-and-1 from the Steelers' 2. Maybe he was spooked by the previous play, a zero-gain run by Bilal Powell. Ryan should've gone for it. Even if they had failed, his defense would've been in great field position. Truth be told, the Jets were conservative on offense throughout the first half, perhaps showing too much respect for LeBeau's defense. Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was cautious in his play calling, treating Smith with kid gloves -- a rarity.

Missing Darrelle Revis: It was a bad day for the Jets' cornerbacks, especially Antonio Cromartie, who was burned on a 55-yard touchdown pass and flagged for a 25-yard pass-interference penalty. In both cases, he had poor technique, allowing his man to beat him to the inside. Cromartie was listed as questionable because of a knee injury suffered last Thursday in practice, so it's possible he may have been slowed. But this was more than a Cromartie issue. Already without rookie Dee Milliner (hamstring), the Jets lost nickelback Kyle Wilson (possible concussion) in the first half. Seldom-used Isaiah Trufant was forced into the nickel role. Ben Roethlisberger (23-for-30, 264 yards) had an easy pitch-and-catch all day. The book is out on the Jets' defense -- vulnerable against controlled passing. In the past two games, Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan are a combined 59-for-75.

What's next: The Jets are home against the Patriots (4-1), who intercepted Smith three times in the Week 2 meeting.