We saw Eichel vs. Matthews and Allen vs. Darnold; Hope we see it for years to come

On this day, it was Sam Darnold's turn to shine

Paul Hamilton
December 09, 2018 - 5:50 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

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Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) - On Tuesday, we got to see Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews lead their teams to a great game that wasn’t won until Matthews scored with 2.7 second left in overtime.

On Sunday, it was the first ever battle between Josh Allen and Sam Darnold, and this one didn’t go Buffalo’s way either.

Allen got the Bills out to a 17-6 lead, only to see Darnold bring the Jets back. This one was more than the two quarterbacks. You could easily say Danny Crossman’s special teams lost them a second straight game, but it was Sean McDermott’s game management that killed his team in the end.

With 2:47 left in the fourth quarter, the Bills were at the Jets' 20 with a 2nd-and-7. New York was taking its time outs and the Bills seemed to be in control. Marcus Murphy ran the ball to make it 3rd-and-5 from the Jets' 18. Instead of going for a play that would gain five yards, McDermott allowed Brian Daboll to call a pass to Zay Jones in the end zone that fell incomplete.

Why not try to pick up the five yards and, if nothing else, make the Jets take another time out? If the Bills pick up the first down, it’s possible Stephen Hauschka’s 36-yard field goal comes on the final play instead of giving Darnold 2:35 to operate.

Another special teams penalty on Jordan Poyer for illegal formation helped set the Jets up at their own 39. Darnold got the ball deep into Bills territory when he threw a perfect ball over Tre White and into the arms of Robby Anderson. The 37-yard gain gave the Jets the ball at the Buffalo five.

On third down, Darnold tried to run it in and was stopped short by Matt Milano, but Elijah McGuire ran off right tackle to give New York the lead on fourth down.

Allen still had 1:17 to drive the Bills 78 yards to victory, but on the drive’s second play, he throws a poor pass that was intercepted by Trumaine Johnson and Darnold won Allen/Darnold-1. It was the second interception of the game for Johnson.

Allen had a pretty easy time getting his team out to an 11-point lead. It looked just like the Sabres game against the Flyers where Buffalo thought they had it won and stopped playing.

Allen ran for 87 yards in the first half and 14 in the second. He was 9-of-18 for 95 yards in the first half, and 9-of-18 for 111 yards in the second. The difference was he moved the sticks with his legs in the first half. The Bills had 17 first downs in the first half and seven in the second.

Just look at Buffalo’s drive charts. In the first half they had an 11-play TD drive, a three-play fumble drive, a seven-play touchdown drive, an eight-play field goal drive, a two-play interception drive and a 12-play blocked field goal drive.

In the second half, Allen had a four-play field goal drive, a nine-play punt drive, a nine-play missed field goal drive, a nine-play field goal drive and a two-play interception drive.

At the end of the first half, Hauschka had his 49-yard field goal attempt blocked. Even though the Jets couldn’t advance the attempt, they tried to. Hauschka should’ve been looking for the head hunters, but wasn’t and the guy that blocked the kick, Henry Anderson, just annihilated him. Hauschka stayed down on the field for quite some time and, although he came back, he wasn’t himself in the second half.

With that in mind, McDermott made another very questionable call in the fourth quarter. Buffalo had 4th-and-8 from the Jets' 36 and he trotted his injured kicker out to try a 54-yard field goal. Normally, I would have zero problem with that because when healthy, Hauschka is very good from there, but he wasn’t healthy and hooked it badly.

Darnold was injured in the first quarter, but came back in and got better as the game went on. The Jets' No. 1 pick ended 16-of-24 for 170 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Danny Crossman’s units allowed Andre Roberts two huge kickoff returns that led to 10 New York points. The first was a 51-yard return that put the ball at the Bills' 46. The second was an 86-yard return that gave the Jets 1st-and-goal from the Bills' eight.

Crossman’s special teams lost the game in Miami and were big contributors in losing this one. There is one point to be made to be fair. The Bills did force Roberts into fumbling the second half kickoff that was recovered by Marcus Murphy at the Jets' 13.

Buffalo didn’t win the big hockey battle or the big football battle, but I can’t wait to see many, many more battles between Eichel and Matthews and Allen and Darnold.

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