Barkley, Bills light up listless Jets 41-10
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr., AP Pro Football Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Matt Barkley had just put the finishing touches on a stunning victory when he jogged over to the sideline, found his mother in the stands and handed her his well-deserved game ball.
It was quite a moment for the Buffalo Bills quarterback, who looked nothing like a guy who had no job and an uncertain future just a few weeks ago.
Barkley sparked Buffalo’s bumbling offense with two touchdown passes, including one to offensive tackle Dion Dawkins , LeSean McCoy broke out of a season-long slump with 113 yards rushing and a pair of TD runs, and the Bills embarrassed the New York Jets 41-10 on Sunday.
“For me, I knew I could play in this league,” Barkley said. “To get back out there after two years, it was, and I don’t want to be cliché by saying it was like riding a bike, but I’ve done this for years. I feel like I was made to play football and (today) was an example of going out there and doing what I was made to do.”
Barkley made his first start in nearly two years, and looked the best of any of the four quarterbacks the Bills (3-7) have trotted out this season. The 28-year-old journeyman was 15 of 25 for 232 yards while helping Buffalo snap a four-game losing streak as the Bills put up 451 yards of total offense.
Barkley got the nod from coach Sean McDermott ahead of the ineffective Nathan Peterman despite having just two weeks of practice with the Bills since signing on Oct. 30. Rookie Josh Allen has missed four straight games with a sprained right elbow, and Derek Anderson is sidelined with a concussion. Barkley’s last start came in the 2016 season finale for Chicago.
Now the question is: Should Barkley be the Bills’ starter moving forward?
“I don’t know,” Barkley said. “That’s a question I don’t have the answer to, nor the authority to answer. I’ll be ready to play. This QB situation seems to be fluctuating. In whatever way I can help this team, that’s my goal.”
Added McDermott: “Give me some time on that.”
Meanwhile, the hot seat under coach Todd Bowles reached a boiling point as the Jets (3-7) got completely manhandled by a team that entered with a league-low 96 points and had two touchdowns in its previous four games.
“Everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong,” Bowles said. “We stunk it up as coaches, we stunk it up as players.”
The Jets have a bye-week break and the future of Bowles, in his fourth season, is in serious doubt. Owner Christopher Johnson declined comment to reporters after the game.
“We’re going to try like hell to win our last six games,” Bowles said.
New York started 39-year-old Josh McCown in place of injured rookie Sam Darnold, but he couldn’t prevent the Jets from their fourth straight loss in front of a frustrated fan base that booed lustily throughout.
McCown was 17 of 34 for 135 yards with two interceptions, and the Jets finished with just 199 total yards.
“That’s the first time I felt like somebody really smacked us,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said, “and we didn’t do nothing about it.”
Barkley certainly didn’t look rusty, launching a 47-yard pass to Robert Foster on the Bills’ first offensive play. Foster, just promoted from the practice squad, beat top Jets cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who had missed the previous five games with an injured quadriceps.
On the next play, Barkley handed off to McCoy, who scored his first touchdown of the season with a 28-yard run that gave Buffalo a 7-0 lead 49 seconds in.
Barkley and the Bills took a 14-0 lead midway through the opening quarter on a fluky play. On third-and-7 from the 11, Zay Jones caught a pass and took it 10 yards before fumbling as he reached the goal line. Tight end Jason Croom recovered in the end zone for a touchdown that was upheld by video review.
The 14-play, 73-play drive was prolonged by a fake punt on fourth-and-6 from the Bills 47 when the ball was snapped directly to tight end Logan Thomas, a quarterback at Virginia Tech. Thomas then completed a 19-yard pass to Foster for the first down.
The Bills outgained the Jets 186-1 after one quarter, and added to their lead less than two minutes into the second quarter on Stephen Hauschka’s 54-yard field goal that made it 17-0.
If there was any doubt as to where this game was headed, the Bills added in some trickery — and embarrassment for the Jets — on their next drive.
Dawkins lined up as an eligible receiver on first-and-goal from the 7. Barkley, of course, found the 6-foot-5, 320-pound lineman wide open for a touchdown.
The Jets had another brutal sequence on their next possession, when they had three — yes, three — holding penalties called on one play. Then McCown, facing a blitz, threw the ball up down the left sideline and Matt Milano picked it off.
Seven plays later, McCoy ran it in from the 1 — moments after it was ruled he was down there and had a TD reversed — to put Buffalo up 31-0.
THE REAL McCOY
McCoy surpassed 500 career points, and vaulted into 26th place on the career yards rushing list. He also topped 100 yards rushing for the first time since gaining 156 in a 13-7 overtime win over Indianapolis on Dec. 10.
“It’s like that big monkey’s off my back a little bit,” McCoy said.
McCoy has 10 career games with at least 100 yards on the ground and two rushing TDs, joining Adrian Peterson as the only active players to do so.
Bills CB Taron Johnson left in the third quarter with a shoulder injury and didn’t return. … Milano left to be evaluated for a head injury in the fourth quarter. … The Jets reported no injuries.
Bills: Bye. Home vs. Jacksonville on Nov. 25.
Jets: Bye. Home vs. New England on Nov. 25.
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