Orchard Park, NY – While the Buffalo Bills may have had a disappointing season, they finished on a high note with a 28-9 triumph over the New York Jets, who can finally put an end to an embarrassing campaign.
Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for 225 yards on 12-of-26 efficiency for Buffalo (6-10), which got late rushing scores from Brad Smith and Tashard Choice in snapping a three-game losing skid.
"It was a team win," said Bills head coach Chan Gailey. "There were some critical plays in the game that we made. We had not been making some of those critical plays in the game and we made them this game. It was a good overall team victory."
C.J. Spiller made two catches for 72 yards -- including a 66-yard TD reception -- and added 59 yards on 24 carries, while Stevie Johnson eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving plateau on the season with six catches for 111 yards.
New York (6-10) scored 10 points or less for the seventh time this year in its third straight defeat. Mark Sanchez capped a season plagued by inconsistent quarterback play by throwing an interception, losing a fumble and completing less than half of his passes (17-of-35) for the eighth time in 2012.
"I'm contracted to be here, I want to be here," said Sanchez regarding his future status with the team. "That's all I've known is a Jets uniform, I plan on playing here forever, so who knows."
Shonn Greene rushed for 74 yards on 19 carries and Bilal Powell added 56 yards on 12 touches for New York, which will head into the offseason early for the second consecutive year following back-to-back AFC Championship appearances in 2009 and 2010.
Scoring for just the fourth time this season on their opening drive, the Jets went on top 3-0 early after Nick Folk booted through a 47-yard field goal to cap a 12-play series, however, the lead didn't last.
After being pulled following a four interception performance in New York's loss to Tennessee in Week 15, Sanchez got the start in place on a concussed Greg McElroy, and on his fourth throw of the game he was picked off by Bryan Scott, who returned it 20 yards for a touchdown to put the Bills ahead 7-3 with 3:34 left in the first.
New York responded with a 14-play drive following the interception, but just barely came away with points. Sanchez overthrew Jeremy Kerley on 3rd-and-goal and Folk's 23-yard field goal got deflected at the line, but it just got over the crossbar and the Jets pulled within one at 7-6.
With the help of a 40-yard gain on a screen pass to Kerley, the Jets once again got deep into Buffalo territory, but were unable to get into the end zone.
Folk salvaged the 10-play drive, however, by booting his third field goal of the game -- this one from 28 yards out -- to put New York back on top 9-7.
But like the Jets' first lead of the game, it was short-lived. Three plays following Folk's field goal, Spiller caught a short pass from Fitzpatrick and rumbled 66 yards for a touchdown.
With Buffalo leading New York 14-9 at the break, both teams stumbled in the third quarter, failing to convert opportunities into points.
New York started on the Buffalo 15 after recovering a Spiller fumble on the Bills' first touch of the second half, but Folk had his 30-yard field goal attempt blocked after the Jets only advanced the football four yards.
On the Jets' next touch, a review upheld a 40-yard reception from Kerley to put New York on the Buffalo 29, however Braylon Edwards was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at the conclusion of the following play for taking off his helmet, eventually forcing the Jets to punt.
Rian Lindell came up empty on the Bills' next two offensive possessions. Coming into the game, Lindell had missed just one field goal but missed wide left on back-to-back tries from 50 and 46 yards, respectively, keeping Buffalo from padding its advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
However, after another quick series for the Jets, Buffalo got into the end zone to put the game out of reach.
Smith, the former Jet, rushed into the end zone from four yards out on a Wildcat play to cap an 80-yard drive to put Buffalo ahead 21-9. A 37-yard catch by Johnson on the first play of the series helped set up the Bills in scoring position.
New York got nothing done on its next two offensive possessions. A Sanchez interception was overturned but New York was still forced to punt and then on 4th-and-1 of the ensuing touch, Powell was stuffed for a loss, resulting in a turnover on downs.
The Bills ended a six-game losing streak to New York, which had won eight of the previous nine contests ... Since the start of 2011, Sanchez has turned the ball over 52 times ... Johnson is the first Bills wide receiver to have three consecutive campaigns with at least 1,000 yards receiving ... Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff is retiring following a 30-year coaching stint in the NFL. He's been with the Jets since 2001.