Far too late for the playoffs, running back C.J. Spiller helped deliver embattled Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey a season-ending 28-9 win over the turmoil-riddled New York Jets on Sunday.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez did nothing to settle questions about his job security with another sloppy performance. Nor did he help the status of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, who's expected to be released after one season.
Spiller had 59 yards rushing and scored on a 66-yard catch and run in a game between two AFC East rivals with no playoff implications. Safety Bryan Scott returned an interception 20 yards, while Brad Smith scored on a 4-yard run, and Tashard Choice on 13-yard run for the Bills (6-10).
Despite snapping a three-game skid with their first win in seven tries against New York, Buffalo still finished fourth in the division for a fifth straight season. Buffalo hasn't made the playoffs for 13 straight seasons.
That's led to questions regarding Gailey's job status after going 16-32 in three seasons.
The Jets (6-10) and beleaguered coach Rex Ryan also enter an uncertain offseason after closing their second straight year with three consecutive losses. Since taking the Jets to successive AFC title games, Ryan has gone 14-18.
Sanchez did nothing to ease the criticism. The 2009 first-round draft pick finished 17 of 25 for 205 yards with an interception — his 18th of the season — and a lost fumble. He also directed an offense that once more lacked finish, settling for two field goals on three trips inside the Bills 20.
It was Sanchez's first start in two weeks after he turned over the ball five times in a 14-10 loss at Tennessee. He got the start after third-stringer Greg McElroy complained of concussion-like symptoms on Thursday.
Down 9-7, the Bills went ahead for good when Ryan Fitzpatrick dumped a short pass over the middle to Spiller, who split defenders and then outraced them into the end zone.
The Jets trailed 14-9 at the half despite gaining more yards than Buffalo (204-132), getting more first downs (13-4) and holding a whopping edge in time of possession (23:15-6:45).
On a cold, sunny afternoon in a half-empty Ralph Wilson Stadium, a foot of snow that fell this week was completely shoveled away only three hours before kickoff. And what happened on the field was overshadowed by the various changes that could be coming for both teams.
Gailey and general manager Buddy Nix are on the hot seat, particularly after a spending spree that brought defensive end Mario Williams for a $100 million contract.
So is Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum, who reworked Sanchez's contract in March; the QB is guaranteed $8.25 million next year.
It's also possible that, like Sanchez, Fitzpatrick has appeared in his final game with his team.
Plus, Tim Tebow was a nonfactor once again for New York, just as he has been all season. It likely was Tebow's final game with the Jets.
This is not the finish many expected for the Bills, who opened the season with aspirations of being a bona fide contender after their defense was supposed to have been improved with the addition of high-priced defensive end Mario Williams.