The Buffalo Bills (0-1) suffered a most embarrassing loss against the New York Jets (1-0) in their season opener on Monday Night Football. While the game should’ve been in the bag after Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers was carted off with an Achilles injury on their opening drive, the Bills imploded in a 22-16 defeat.
While Bills quarterback Josh Allen deserves much of the blame, committing four costly turnovers (three interceptions, two of which were in double coverage, and one fumble), before going three and out during Buffalo’s first possession in overtime, no one expected the game to come such an abrupt end on the very next play.
Bills veteran Sam Martin punted the ball, which turned into a 65-yard game-winning return touchdown for Jets’ wide receiver Xavier Gipson, an undrafted rookie. Video of Martin’s punt bad and his poor attempt to “tackle” Gipson near the end zone went viral on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Former NFL placekicker turned sportscaster Jay Feely posted the clip and wrote, “Brutal by Sam Martin here. 1st the punt is a right punt, from the right hash, all the coverage team is running that way and he pulls it short and left- that throws off the coverage big time, then a terrible effort to make the tackle at the end of the return.”
With the game on the line in primetime against a division rival, viewers expected a little bit more effort from the 33-year-old punter.
Field Gulls producer Mookie Alexander wrote, “Martin gotta be unemployed after that holy s***. A bad punt and then a total non-effort of a tackle,” while a fan joked, “Martin hit ‘em with that 1-2 theater kid forced to play touch football in gym class tho.”
Former NFL linebacker turned Fox Sports 1 analyst Emmanuel Acho posted an entire tirade ripping not just Martin’s “awful mishit” punt, but the entire special teams unit.
A man replied, “The punt was supposed to be to the right. The coverage was heading that way. The punter screwed his coverage team and then had a piss poor effort paddycaking the returner when he should’ve tackled him. This is mostly on the punter,” to which Acho responded, “Oh for sure was a mishit, it only traveled 40 yards and no hang time. He’s for sure culpable as well.”
NFL Network’s Michael F. Florio wrote, “One game and I’m out on this [Sean] McDermott/[Ken]Dorsey coaching tandem. It’s all the exact same mistakes they made last year. Hate the play calls, defense can’t stop the run or tackle, special teams a mess.”
ESPN Announcer Said There Was a Missed Penalty Call on the Final Play
As the Jets celebrated their overtime win in the end zone, ESPN’s John Parry said on the broadcast that Jets linebacker Chazz Surratt should have been flagged on the final play for tripping the Bills’ Quinton Morris.
“It is big,” Parry said of the Jets victory, “but you’ve gotta put an asterisk on it because there’s a tripping call that was not made. A trip, a leg whip, right near the 23-yard line, No. 55 (Surratt), which would have brought the touchdown back.”
Whether or not the penalty should’ve been called split fans and analysts. Jets fans clearly did not want to hear about a missed penalty amid the most exciting comeback win at MetLife Stadium, while Bills Mafia, already deflated from the game, felt like the announcement put salt in their wounds.
Pro Football Talk posted, “That supposed missed tripping call on the punt return is not nearly as blatant and clear as John Parry was making it out to be,” while another person wrote, “The tripping call would have just led to a game winning FG so ball don’t lie.”
Special Teams are ‘A Concern,’ Sean McDermott Said
While Allen looked miserable during his postgame press conference, “I am the reason we lost tonight,” he said, and the somber continued when it was head coach Sean McDermott’s turn to speak to the media.
“He knows he can play better, I know he’s capable of playing better,” McDermott said of Allen. “He’s capable of playing smarter as well. And he’s got to do that for us to, No. 1, stay healthy and then No. 2, to take care of the football, and he’s more than capable of doing that.”
When asked about special teams, “It’s a concern,” McDermott said. “I have confidence in those guys and the coach (Matthew Smiley). I just don’t feel like there was enough bodies down there on that last one. I give [the Jets] credit, but there wasn’t enough population around the ball.”