ORCHARD PARK —
Former Bills kicker Scott Norwood was honored with the 26th annual Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Distinguished Service Award during a break in the first half of Buffalo’s 27-11 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
“The connections are long and deep here and just tremendous feeling to be back among everybody,” said Norwood, who returned to Buffalo to watch his first Bills game since his retirement.
Norwood, who played for the Bills from 1985 until 1991, was welcomed with a standing ovation when he was acknowledged in the first quarter. He’s the 31st recipient of the award, which recognizes past players for their contributions both on and off the field.
“I guess that the basis of my visit here is not so much for the football part of my career,” he said prior to kickoff. “I see the award more as a result of my service to the community. My work with Camp Good Days, Special Times and some other things were a little ancillary for a football player, but are an important part of the position.”
Norwood, though, played an integral part of the Bills’ success on the field before being succeeded by Steve Christie. Norwood set a franchise record for most field goals in a single season with 32 in 1988, the same year he earned his lone Pro Bowl selection.
“For what I have to give, I think I performed and maybe exceeded what I could do,” he said. “I led the league in scoring (129 in 1988), made Pro Bowls and did other things of that nature. I was supported, of course, by a great team and franchise.”
The Bills have managed to recover from poor starts this season, but were not able to get back on track after what was a disaster of a first half offensively. Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 4 of 12 passes for 24 yards, two interceptions and a 2.8 passer rating through the first two quarters.
Bills receiver Donald Jones said the Jets did everything they expected them to on defense with a lot of man-to-man coverages.
“Really we beat ourselves with penalties and turnovers,” Jones said. “We didn’t do anything right today. We didn’t execute. It wasn’t anything the Jets did; it was just all on us.”
Stevie Johnson added: “We didn’t show up like we usually do. When we started off in the first half it was three and out, three and out, three and out. We can’t do that against a team like that.”
Jackson lost his first fumble of the season early in the third quarter when Jets defensive tackle Sione Pouha knocked the ball loose on a first-down run on the Buffalo 22. Jim Leonhard was there to recover, and three plays later the Jets were in the end zone for their first touchdown of the game.
“I’ll take that one on the chin. That was my fault,” Jackson said. “I let the team down and let the ball go. We can’t do that, can’t have turnovers like that.”
Coach Chan Gailey said he didn’t expect his defense to register 10 sacks for the second straight week, but also said he didn’t expect his group to struggle in that area once again.
Defensive end Alex Carrington brought down Mark Sanchez on New York’s opening drive, accounting for the Bills’ lone sack of the day.
“Our goal is to get three or more sacks in a game and we didn’t meet it,” said linebacker Danny Batten, who made five tackles Sunday. We can say a whole mesh of things that contributed: Sanchez was great in getting the ball out; he was as good as we’ve seen this year in timing and not holding onto the ball. They have great offensive linemen – D’Brickashaw Ferguson, (Nick) Mangold – and you’re not just going to beat those guys free and be able to get there on a three-step, two second release.”
Jairus Byrd reeled in his fourth career pick against the Jets, intercepting a Mark Sanchez pass in the end zone on the New York’s opening possession. Buffalo appeared to record its league-leading 16th interception late in the first half when George Wilson scooped up a pass tipped by Dwan Edwards on the Bills’ 31.
The play, which was ruled a catch, was overturned upon further review.
“I didn’t think it hit the ground,” Wilson said. “I thought I had my hand up under it. Obviously they went up and reviewed it. I didn’t get to see the replay. The ref made the call, and who knows what could have happened.”
Kicker Rian Lindell hurt his right shoulder making a tackle on Joe McKnight’s 59-yard field goal to start the second half. Lindell was still able to make a 24-yard field goal later in the third quarter. Brian Moorman, however, was needed to step in on the ensuing kickoff.
Receiver Ruvell Martin was also injured covering a kick, while Jackson missed a few plays with a stinger.
“I’ll be alright and ready to go,” Jackson said.
Jones returned after missing the past two games with an ankle injury, but managed one catch for 6 yards late in the fourth quarter.
“It was no issue today,” he said. “We’ll see how it feels tomorrow when I wake up, but nothing during the game.”
Linebacker Chris Kelsay was a late scratch for the Bills, missing his third of four games due to a nagging calf injury. The veteran played last week against Washington and practiced on Wednesday, but was limited the rest of the week.
Offensive lineman Chris Hairston was back in uniform after missing the Redskins game with an ankle injury, but he still served as backup to Andy Levitre at left tackle.
Also inactive for Buffalo were Aaron Williams, Reggie Corner, Terrence Wheatley, Sam Young, Demetrius Bell and Kyle Williams.