Sauce Gardner had a rough day against the Buffalo Bills, being flagged for a key holding penalty, another for unnecessary roughness and then failing to make the tackle on wide receiver Khalil Shakir’s 81-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
His day got a little worse when he took to social media to share a now-deleted post on the big play in the 32-6 Bills victory on November 19. As Syracuse.com’s Ryan Talbot noted, Gardner appeared to deflect blame for the touchdown catch, which turned out to be the longest touchdown reception of the year in the NFL.
While Garnder thought better of the post and deleted it, it still managed to stir controversy, Talbot noted.
“While the Jets were in a zone defense, Gardner tried unsuccessfully to jump the route to Shakir,” Talbot wrote. “He did not get there in time. As for still making a play, Gardner wasn’t wrong. His effort to go after Shakir following the catch was lackluster at best. Gardner seemed to give up on the play until late. By the time he got himself back into the play, he was taken out by a Dalton Kincaid block.”
Sauce Gardner ‘Throwing Teammates Under the Bus’
Gardner’s tweet led to some criticism, especially among New York media. The game was a low point for the Jets this season, dropping them to 4-6 while moving the Bills back to 6-5 and to the fringes of the playoff bracket.
Kevin Manahan of NJ.com accused Gardner of throwing his teammates under the bus on the play and pointed out that his failure to chase down Shakir wasn’t his only low point of the game.
“As the Bills rolled up 393 yards, Gardner was penalized for defensive holding in the end zone and drew a 15-yard penalty for roughing wide receiver Stefon Diggs after a play,” Manahan wrote.
Manahan pointed out that Gardner seemed to cool down after the game, playing peacemaker when teammate Michael Clemons confronted Bills tackle Dion Dawkins and the two got into a heated argument.
“A lot of emotions going into it. That’s it,” Gardner said. “A lot of emotions. Frustrated. I ain’t have no issues with none of them. I was trying to resolve everything.”
Bounceback Win for Bills
The win was a much-needed one for the Bills, who struggled with the Jets in a Week 1 loss and were in danger of falling out of playoff contention entirely with another loss. After throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble in the first meeting between the teams, quarterback Josh Allen rebounded with a three-touchdown performance.
After the game, Allen said it was good to have fun on the field again.
“Let’s have fun playing this game. It’s football and at the end of the day we get to do, in my opinion, the most amazing job on the planet … So we’ve got to enjoy it when you can,” Allen said.
Though the win was a needed one, the Bills now face their most challenging stretch of the season. They go on the road to face the Philadelphia Eagles, and after a bye week travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs. They end the brutal three-game stretch by hosting the Dallas Cowboys.