- Associated Press - Sunday, January 3, 2016

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - In a disappointing season in which the Buffalo Bills fell well short of Rex Ryan’s playoff aspirations, the coach managed to get in the last word.

Take that.

Ryan’s familiar blustery personality returned, if just for a moment, after the Bills (8-8) closed their season with a 22-17 win in to thwart the New York Jets playoff hopes in their season finale Sunday.

The win came against Ryan’s former team and after the coach had faced the brunt of criticism for an under-performing high-priced defense that played a key role in Buffalo missing the playoffs for a 16th straight season - the NFL’s longest playoff drought.

“You guys know me, I have a horrible resume as a defensive coach,” Ryan said, sarcastically referring to his critics in the media. “You guys try to point it out all the time. But the facts don’t back you up a whole lot.”

On Sunday, they didn’t.

The Bills defense secured the victory by intercepting Ryan Fitzpatrick on each of the Jets’ final three possessions.

Fitzpatrick started the fourth quarter having his 14-yard pass intended for Eric Decker in the end zone intercepted by Leodis McKelvin. Then, on the first snap following the 2-minute warning, Fitzpatrick was hit by Marcell Dareus just as he got the ball off. The pass was underthrown and easily intercepted by Manny Lawson.

The game was decided when Fitzpatrick’s side-arm pass over the middle was intercepted by linebacker A.J. Tarpley with 11 seconds remaining.

The Jets were eliminated from contention shortly after the final whistle blew in Buffalo, when the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) advanced with a 28-12 win at Cleveland.

McKelvin took pride in helping spoil the playoff chances of an AFC East rival and that of a former teammate, Fitzpatrick.

“I feel great knowing he feels just like I feel, going to be watching at home,” McKelvin said.

New York finished with 300 yards offense and converted just three of 11 third-down attempts.

It was a stingy performance by an injury-depleted defense that failed to play consistently even when healthy this season.

Ryan has already said “drastic changes” will be in order this offseason.

Though he hasn’t named names, one of the players on the way out will be defensive end Mario Williams, who has publicly criticized Ryan’s defense on several occasions this year.

A person familiar with discussions told The Associated Press last week that Williams will be cut this offseason because of his high-priced salary and drop in performance. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills do not publicly discuss their plans involving player personnel.

Williams, who has two years left on his six-year, $100 million contract, said he wants to be back, but hasn’t been informed by the team.

He had Buffalo’s lone sack against the Jets. A year after leading the NFL with 54 sacks, the Bills managed just 21, the fewest in a 16-game season in team history.

The Bills converted nine of 20 third-down opportunities and dominated the time of possession by nearly 19 minutes.

Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor finished 18 of 28 for 182 yards and opened the scoring on an 18-yard run. Karlos Williams also scored on a 2-yard plunge, while Dan Carpenter hit all three field-goal attempts, including a 42-yarder with 3:49 left.

Sammy Watkins had 11 catches for 136 yards, and finished with 1,047 yards, topping 1,000 for the first time in his two seasons.

___

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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