EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Dec. 10, 2006) -- Erik Coleman knew the New York Jets had just blown a great opportunity to improve their playoff chances, so he couldn't hide his frustration.
"This is a big hiccup right here," the Jets safety said softly. "We'll see what kind of team we are. We'll see if we bounce back."
Three big plays by the Buffalo Bills put a huge crimp in the Jets' postseason plans. Willis McGahee scored on a 57-yard run, Lee Evans had a 77-yard TD catch and Nate Clements returned an interception 58 yards for a score in the Bills' 31-13 victory.
"It definitely hurts to get beat like that at home," Coleman said. "It hurts to get beat like that anytime, but especially at home."
Buffalo (6-7) looked more like the playoff contender than the Jets (7-6), winning for the third time in four games.
"The season is not over," Bills quarterback J.P. Losman said. "We have a long way to go. If we keep winning, you never know what will happen at the end."
It was the third time in Bills history, and first since Sept. 24, 1989, at Houston, that they had three plays of over 50 yards in a game. It was also the first time since 1965 that the Bills had a rushing TD and passing score of over 50 yards in a game.
"It wasn't the plan to come out and pound them," Losman said. "The plan was to come out firing, come out throwing. The way the game went, getting on top early and taking the crowd out of it, we just had to go with it."
McGahee, who playfully told Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma during the week that he couldn't be stopped, had 125 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries -- despite missing the second quarter because he was sick on the bench. He has gained 100 or more yards in each of his last five games against New York.
"Willis was really sick," coach Dick Jauron said. "I don't know why. It's not very often, in an NFL game, you see a player sitting on the bench eating a sandwich. We had to get some food in him. He came back and obviously played really well."
The Jets, who began a season-ending stretch of four games against teams under .500, failed to take advantage of AFC East-leading New England's 21-0 loss to Miami. New York remained two games behind the Patriots -- and just a game ahead of the surging Bills and Dolphins.
"Today was almost like a step back," linebacker Victor Hobson said. "Especially with the way we've been playing and the way we know we can play and the way we expect to come out and play."
Chad Pennington, coming off perhaps the best two-game stretch of his career, made two costly mistakes in this one. With the Bills leading 14-10 late in the third quarter, Pennington's high throw was tipped by Jerricho Cotchery and landed in Clements' hands. The Bills cornerback easily took it into the end zone for a 21-10 lead with 1:47 left.
"The ball just came out high, and it was indicative of the whole day: out of rhythm," Pennington said. "There's no excuse for it. I've just got to find a way to fix it."
The Bills took advantage of another Jets turnover late in the third quarter when Aaron Schobel hit Pennington from behind and caused a fumble that Ryan Denney recovered. Four plays later, Losman found a wide-open Robert Royal, who high-stepped into the end zone for a 28-13 lead with 1:58 left.
That sent many of the fans at the Meadowlands for the exits and the Jets' postseason hopes into turmoil.
The Bills' biggest play gave them a lead they wouldn't relinquish. With Buffalo facing a third-and-3 on their 23 late in the first half, Losman pump-faked while Evans put a move on cornerback David Barrett. Losman then unloaded a long pass down the left sideline that fell into the hands of Evans, who easily ran into the end zone to give the Bills a 14-10 lead with 4:47 remaining.
Losman was 10 of 15 for 157 yards and two touchdowns, while Pennington was 22 of 35 for 182 yards and one touchdown and two interceptions.
McGahee put the Bills up with his impressive run with 4:22 left in the opening quarter. McGahee took the ball up the middle, bounced to the left and sprinted into the end zone 57 yards for the longest scoring run of his career. It was the first first-quarter touchdown the Jets allowed in eight games.
"I know there was a crease," Hobson said, "and he found it."
The Jets came right back on their next possession, tying it on a 10-yard catch by Laveranues Coles.
Notes: Mike Nugent had field goals of 30 and 38 yards for the Jets, while Rian Lindell kicked a 34-yarder for the Bills. ... The last time the Bills had rushing and passing TDs of 50 yards or more, Wray Carlton had an 80-yard TD run and Bo Roberson caught a 74-yard pass from Daryle Lamonica on Dec. 5, 1965, at Houston. ... Bills LB Takeo Spikes left with an ankle injury in the second quarter, but returned for the start of the second half.