ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Their disappointing seasons having finally come to a close, no one was ready to discuss what changes might be in store for the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.
"Let's talk about today, and let's talk about tomorrow or next week at a later date," Bills coach Chan Gailey said after a 28-9 season-ending win over the Jets on Sunday.
Gailey's on the hot seat after two consecutive 6-10 finishes and a 16-32 record in three seasons in Buffalo. And there are questions being raised as to whether general manager Buddy Nix's job is secure.
It's no different in New York for Jets' one-time franchise quarterback Mark Sanchez, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and general manager Mike Tannenbaum. And don't forget Tim Tebow, who might also be on his way out after a season in which the high-profile backup created more headlines than game-deciding plays.
Jets coach Rex Ryan was in no mood to look beyond Sunday.
"As much as I hate talking about this Buffalo game, that's where I'd like to keep the questions," Ryan said.
Deferring the tough conversations to another time won't make the uncertainty go away for two AFC East rivals, who opened the season with much higher aspirations only to both close with 6-10 records. It's Buffalo that, under tiebreaking rules, will finish last in the division for a fifth consecutive year, while having already extended the league's longest active playoff drought to 13 seasons.
"Not a lot of jubilation," Gailey said of team's mood. "Everybody knew we had won the ballgame, and they were happy. But it was not excited."
Gailey's status has been in question since the Bills went into a tailspin following a 3-3 start. Their win over the Jets snapped a three-game skid.
Despite an NBC report that he could be fired as early as Monday, Gailey is sticking with a business-as-usual plan.
On Monday, he's scheduled to address his players, meet with his coaching staff and then hold his annual season-ending news conference with reporters.
The decision on Gailey and Nix is in the hands of Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson, who has remained silent all season. Wilson did attend the team's holiday party in Buffalo on Friday, before returning home to Detroit.
Bills players are bracing for changes.
"There's going to be change, and we all know that," said Stevie Johnson, who finished with 111 yards receiving in becoming the first Bills player to surpass 1,000 yards in three straight years.
Safety Bryan Scott returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown. C.J. Spiller had 59 yards rushing and scored the go-ahead touchdown late in the second quarter on a 66-yard catch and run. Brad Smith scored on a 4-yard run, and Tashard Choice on 13-yard run for the Bills, who ended a six-game losing streak against the Jets.
The Jets' offense was once again the team's downfall. After opening the season with a 48-24 win over Buffalo, they closed it by combining for 60 points in their final five games.
Sanchez went 17 of 35 for 205 yards passing, while throwing his 18th interception and also losing a fumble. That was reminiscent of his last start, two weeks ago, when he turned the ball over five times in a 14-10 loss at Tennessee.
"We just didn't execute, and it starts with the quarterback," the 2009 first-round draft pick said. "I have to be better. When you're inconsistent, it's tough to win in this league."
The Jets trailed 14-9 at the half despite gaining more yards than Buffalo (204-132), getting more first downs (13-4) and holding a whopping edge in time of possession (23:15-6:45).
Sanchez was supposed to be on the bench on Sunday, and only got the start after third-stringer Greg McElroy complained of concussion-like symptoms on Thursday.
"I know I'm better than this," said Sanchez. "I'm contracted to be here. And I want to be here."
This is not the finish many expected for the Bills, either. They also opened the season with expectations of being a bona fide contender after their defense was supposed to have been improved with the addition of high-priced defensive end Mario Williams.
"The win doesn't change how the season went as far as reaching our team goals," safety George Wilson said. "But, at the end of the day, we're able to go into the offseason on a winning note."
NOTES: The Bills had the sticker "WWFD" on the back of their helmets, honoring two West Webster Fire Department firefighters who were ambushed while responding to a fire in the Rochester, N.Y., suburb on Monday. ... Jets PK Nick Folk kicked three field goals, including a 47-yarder, and also had a 30-yard attempt blocked by DT Marcell Dareus. ... Bills PK Rian Lindell missed wide left from 50 and 46 yards.
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