We’re starting a series at Buffalo Sports Daily, highlighting the five biggest bright spots… and dark clouds on the 2011 Buffalo Bills season. We got off to happy start earlier highlighting the emergence of tight end Scott Chandler as a bright spot. Somberly, today we trudge on by profiling the fifth-darkest cloud on the season—- the horrifically painful to watch reality check the New York Jets laid on the Bills in week nine.
That’s how the Buffalo Bills marketed their home affair with the New York Jets on Sunday November 6. Coming off an impressive 23-0 shutout over Washington in Toronto the week before, the Bills proudly strutted to Ralph Wilson Stadium with a 5-2 record and a showdown with the AFC East rival Jets looming. The game generated strong buzz on sports shows both locally and nationally thoughout the airwaves, and drew the CBS top announcing team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms to Orchard Park.
Fans were encouraged to wear white to the Stadium by Russ Brandon to embody whiteout conditions to the enemy, and that’s precisely what the Bills faithful did.
Regrettably, this whiteout was a Bills’ snowball that quickly grew to an avalanche of bad things to come for the rest of the season.
In a game the organization hoped would represent their official ascent to the AFC playoff picture, the Bills were mauled on their own turf by their despised antagonists from downstate. From the opening kickoff, Buffalo was physically manhandled on both sides of the ball and while the score was manageable through halftime, the Bills were never truly in the game.
A Nick Folk field goal accounted for the only points of the first half as the Jets took a 3-0 lead to the locker room. The small deficit was quite spectacular for Buffalo, who trailed by just three despite giving up 191 total yards of offense and mustering just three first downs of their own in their opening six possessions.
It was the third quarter when things really fell apart. LaDainian Tomlinson scored on a one-yard run and Mark Sanchez chucked an eight-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes as the Jets outscored the Bills 17-3 in the third to blow the door open.
John Connor added a rushing touchdown for New York before Ryan Fitzpatrick finally connected with David Nelson for a meaningless touchdown pass with 3:14 remaining. Long before that, the throng dressed primarily in white was a sea of empty, disheartened seats.
Fitzpatrick was particularly brutal; completing just 15-of-31 passes for 191 yards and two interceptions. It was the foundation of a maddeningly contradictory second half of the season for the bearded gunslinger, who less than two weeks earlier inked to a six-year, $59 million extension.
The end result was a 31-11 shellacking that left the Bills bruised, battered and bewildered.
Of course, things progressively spiraled downward for the Bills following the degrading home trouncing. They’d go on to lose six consecutive games before finally getting in the win column against Denver on Christmas Eve. Fittingly, they’d score the first 21 points in the finale at New England before the Patriots woke up and hung 49 straight points on them as the Bills finished the season 6-10—such a far cry from where they seemed to be the night before the “whiteout” disaster.