It was merely one play in a lopsided 45-17 result, so you could view it as a pimple on the bottom of an elephant’s derriere.
But, if it’s possible to have a pressure-point, game-turning moment in a blowout the size of the one the Bills put on the Jets Sunday at MetLife Stadium, Corey Davis’ fumble near the end of the first half was exactly that.
The Jets, who are offensively challenged as it is, were trailing the Bills 17-3 but they were driving the ball into Buffalo territory in the waning moments of the half, in position to at least kick a field goal and cut the deficit to 17-6.
With 22 seconds remaining, Jets quarterback Mike White connected with Davis, the team’s top receiver, for a 28-yard pass play to the Buffalo 27-yard line.
If Davis went down right there, the Jets were looking at a 45-yard field-goal try for kicker Matt Ammendola, who had already booted a 48-yarder in the first quarter.
Instead, while fighting for a few extra yards, Davis was stripped of the ball by Bills safely Micah Hyde, who recovered his own forced fumble with nine seconds remaining in the half.
The Jets not getting any points out of that situation was debilitating, because the Bills proceeded to boatrace their inferior opponent in the second half, scoring touchdowns on the first three possessions of the second half and were leading 38-3 by the time the Jets could catch their collective breath.
“When you’re playing a team of Buffalo’s caliber and you have the self-inflicted wounds we had … how many turnovers did we have?’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “Five turnovers … you’re going to put up a number like that. You’re going to give up points and you’re not going to score very many. It’s going to look ugly.
“Right there, it’s 17-3, we have a chance to get it to 17-6 worst-case scenario. I know Corey is grinding and trying to gain more yards and trying to fight, so it’s not from a lack of effort or concentration. He’s fighting for yards. Credit them — they got the ball out, but to come out in the second half and not be able to get something going is frustrating.’’
Davis, who’s missed two games with injuries this season and so far hasn’t been the impact receiver the Jets gave him that three-year, $37.5 million contract to be, called himself out for the gaffe afterward.
“It was a big play,’’ Davis said. “I’ve got to hold onto the ball there. It was my bad on my part.’’
Davis leads the Jets with 29 receptions for 442 yards, a 15.2-yard average and four TDs. But he has only one 100-yard receiving game this season, against his former team, the Titans. He finished with five catches for 93 yards Sunday, but would likely give those five back if he could have that lost fumble back.
“I feel like that was the biggest play of the game,’’ Bills cornerback Taron Johnson said of the Hyde-forced turnover. “That was a huge play. That really swayed the game and really put us in position to run away with it.’’
Hyde said, “We knew there were going to be some opportunities [for turnovers] and once we got up on those guys and forced them to start passing the ball a little more, you see what happens.’’
Jets linebacker and captain C.J. Mosley tried to cut Davis some slack afterward.
“Yeah, it was an unfortunate moment,’’ Mosley said. “Corey made a great catch [and] he was fighting for extra yards. That’s the type of person Corey is. He’s going to give everything he has. It was just unfortunate that the ball came out.’’