Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- As the Buffalo Bills turned off the lights at Ralph Wilson Stadium one last time in 2012, members of the underachieving team were able to celebrate the end of their season with a victory.
It's merely a temporary gain, with the looming uncertainty of the coming week starting to come in to focus. The win on Sunday was less about who helped win the matchup and more about what happens once it was done.
With due respect to the players that enjoyed the victory, the game was close to meaningless. That leads to another point entirely:
The times when the games on the field meant the most, the Bills disappeared. Is a coaching change something that will fix the rather weighty problem at One Bills Drive?
That topic will be hotly debated up until the Bills announce their decision on a few different key pieces in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, let's review the Bills' most recent win:
- Before we get too heavy in to game breakdown mode, I don't believe what happened on the field against an injury-riddled Jets team will ultimately sway any decision on the future of head coach Chan Gailey, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt and quite possibly others. Whatever will happen over the course of the next week can't, by a logical standpoint, point to the Week 17 win over the New York as evidence to continue with what they have. The Bills did what they've done all season long: beat terrible opponents. With wins this year coming against Kansas City, Cleveland, Arizona, Miami, Jacksonville and the (injured) Jets, it's hard to see progress when the Bills can only beat teams they automatically should. What will happen? It's unknown to this point in time. But in the grand scheme of things, keep this game out of your memory when analyzing just how the season went.
- Shockingly, for the first time in Bills history a receiver has gained 1,000 yards three straight seasons. With his 111-yard performance on Sunday, Stevie Johnson now owns a distinction no other Bills receiver can claim -- not even Andre Reed. Johnson routinely gets open against the better cornerbacks in the league. He did it against the extremely talented Antonio Cromartie, and even got the Jets cornerback to bark at the officials in frustration near the end of the game. Whoever the coach is next season, a pre-requisite must be to allow Stevie Johnson do what he does best... getting open.
- It wasn't an overwhelming performance by C.J. Spiller, but it was one that's indicative of what a good player can do against a good defense as the featured back. Spiller's yards-per-carry we're way down after gaining 59 yards in 24 carries. However, the Bills found a way to continue to feed him and put him in position to make a big play. Just like in the Miami game, Spiller found some room and busted a play wide open. This time around it came on a screen play, but the third-year running back converted for six points. Something tells me the days of seeing eight touches in a game for Spiller are long gone.
- I know a lot of Bills fans are down about their favorite team's problem at quarterback. What if you were a New York Jets fan? That situation is brutal, and to make matters worse, their former first round pick -- who they traded up for -- has crippled his offense with turnovers all season long. The Jets are destined for a change at that position, but their season at that spot has been nothing short of abysmal.
- Making his first start of the season, defensive end Shawne Merriman made the most of his opportunity. Having an eye on his impending status as an unrestricted free agent, Merriman wanted to prove to people around the league that he could still play. It was only a sample size of one day, but the defensive end was great in run support and getting some pressure on Sanchez for a majority of the game. His seven tackles and quarterback were one of the brightest spots of the Bills' performance.
- Stephon Gilmore and his poise have been impressive this season, as was Cordy Glenn's early-season prowess. However, the emergence of strongside linebacker and former fourth-round pick Nigel Bradham this early in his career has to have the Bills jumping through hoops. The linebacker was all over the field for Buffalo on Sunday, accounting for 11 tackles and even jumping on a loose ball to force a turnover. There is little question that he is trending up for the Bills.
- Although he's been quietly spectacular for the Bills, kicker Rian Lindell had a day he'd like to forget. After hooking a 50-yard attempt left, Lindell slammed his helmet down on the ground in frustration. Not even having enough time to stew about it, Lindell was back on the field to attempt another a mere four plays later (thanks to a Jets turnover and a Bills three-and-out). The result? Another left hook that was missed from 46 yards out. That put Lindell's total on the season at 21-of-24
- This game was never really in doubt for the Bills after the defense stuffed the Jets following the C.J. Spiller fumble that opened up the second half. The defense forced a Jets three-and-out in the red zone, and then blocked a field goal attempt. From that point forward, the Jets didn't threaten to put points on the board again. Also, converting on chances in the second half was huge for the Bills. Their offense held on to the ball for 20:05 in the final thirty minutes. A shining example for how a team should close out a game, and another reminder that the Bills couldn't do that with a high degree of regularity.
Bills' MVP: Stevie Johnson - 6 catches, 111 yards and his third straight 1,000-yard season. I almost wrote 'Mark Sanchez' here.
Bills' LVP: 1st half run defense - They allowed 116 yards on 23 carries to Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell when they knew that's all the Jets could do on offense. They were much, much better in the second half.
Up Next: Attempting to determine what the best step for the organization will be. Also, not the playoffs.
- Too little, too late. The Bills came in to the season with hope and high expectations and left the year with regrets and the winds of change knocking on the door in Orchard Park. Who stays and who goes? It should be an interesting next few weeks at One Bills Drive.