The New York Jets defeated the Buffalo Bills 37-31 in the NFL’s second Thursday Night Football matchup of the year.
In both team’s first divisional matchup of the year, the New York Jets were able to hang on and clinch their first win of the season. As for the Buffalo Bills, they drop to 0-2 and things don’t look good for their hopes of making the playoffs for the first time since 1999. The Rex Ryan experiment appears to be running out of steam as problems in Buffalo continue on both sides of the football.
The Jets nearly doubled the Bills in first downs gained (28-16) and controlled the time of possession (39:12-20:48). As with any Ryan team, the offense needs the ground game to control the clock and keep the opposing offense off the field. Buffalo failed to have one drive of four minutes or more, with their longest one clocking in at 3:48 in the first quarter.
Neither team lacked the explosive play, as we’ll get to those in the highlight section. But for Buffalo, the offense isn’t clicking on all cylinders and at this point, it may not. Running back LeSean McCoy is bouncing in all directions looking for holes but they’re just not there. Left tackle Cordy Glenn sat out this game but as a unit, the Bills are struggling to get any sort of push up front.
Two games into the season, McCoy is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry. Similar to DeMarco Murray’s problem in Philadelphia, McCoy doesn’t seem to fit Ryan’s downhill, smash-mouth running approach. Both McCoy and Ryan would say otherwise, but at this point in his career, McCoy is wasting his talents in a scheme that doesn’t fit his style.
In the first Thursday night game that featured both teams scoring 30+ points since Week 1 of 2011, both teams heavily relied on the deep ball. On passes 20 yards or more down the field, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor was 2-for-6 for 155 yards and an interception. Both the completions were touchdowns of 84 and 71 yards.
The 84-yarder was the longest passing touchdown for the Bills since November of 2009 when now Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Terrell Owens on a 98-yard play. Apart from the two touchdowns, Taylor struggled pushing the ball downfield. His lone interception of the night, seen below, actually could have been a touchdown if he would’ve put enough air under it.
Here are the highlights and analysis:
Bills receiver Marquise Goodwin gets things started for the night.
The Jets were in Cover 3 yet again, and this time, Darrelle Revis gets caught peeking in the backfield. At this point in his career, Revis doesn’t have the speed to recover, resulting in the first touchdown of the night.
On their first drive of the game, the Jets were the beneficiary of two fumble recoveries, this being one of them.
This drive stalled at the Bills five-yard line, and the Jets settled for three.
A scary moment with 2:48 left in the first as receiver Brandon Marshall went down hard, appearing to have twisted his knee. He would eventually return.
This drive would also stall after Fitz hit Decker for 24 yards, they settled for another field goal putting the game at 7-6 Bills.
With Marshall back in the game, the Jets took advantage of a one-on-one matchup with corner Ronald Darby (5’11”) on the 6’4″ Marshall.
Darby is in man-to-man press coverage and does a fine job staying with Marshall, but he can’t defend the pass as Marshall uses his body to box out Darby. That drive ended with running back Matt Forte picking up his first touchdown as a Jet on this one-yard run.
After another Bills punt (they had three of them in total), the Jets marched down the field again, as Decker scores on the slant, beating Darby who had a rough night.
This put the Jets up 20-7. But the Bills were able to muster out a field goal before the end of the half. The Bills converted a fourth and one on the drive, as they brought in backup quarterback E.J. Manuel to sneak it.
To open up the second half, Taylor finds former Jet Greg Salas wide open in the middle of the field, splitting zone coverage and scoring on the 71-yard catch and run.
Things started getting closer when Bills cornerback Nickell Roby scooped up a live ball and took it to the house for six.
After the two exchanged punts, the Jets marched down the field on a 12-play, 84-yard drive which took 6:27, and scored on a three-yard run by Forte.
As I alluded to above, Taylor’s interception could’ve been six points.
He has the matchup he wants as Sammy Watkins beats the corner Marcus Williams off the line and has a step on him. It’s a poor ball by Taylor but give credit to Williams who makes a great play on the ball. He now has two interceptions on the season after recording six a year ago in just eight starts.
The Jets would extract a field goal off the interception.
On Buffalo’s next drive, they faced another fourth and one, but this time, the results were different.
Questionable play call against the best defensive line in football? Perhaps.
The Jets followed the stop with a touchdown that sealed the deal.
1. Ryan Fitzpatrick – Fitz threw for 374 yards Thursday, which was the third-most yards against a Rex Ryan defense. He completed 10 throws of 15 yards or more and had passer rating of 116.5. Most importantly, he spread the ball around the entire offense, finding Quincy Enunwa early and often before getting Decker involved big time in the second half.
2. Brandon Marshall – The trooper of the night caught six balls for 101 yards. While he didn’t record a touchdown, Marshall played a huge roll in opening up the offense for the Jets. He came back after spraining his knee and led this Jets team to a much-needed victory. They’re going to need games like this from Marshall for the long haul, but the rest of the offense was rolling tonight for Gang Green.
3. Matt Forte – Even though he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry, he was responsible for three touchdowns. Forte carried the ball a whopping 30 times on Thursday for 100 yards. It was a positive sign to see him carry them to victory. Seeing him plow his way into the end zone on the goal line was also a positive sign for the Jets. They needed a back inside the 20s after losing Chris Ivory and Forte may just be the guy.
The line was even coming into the game with an over/under of 40.5.
The Jets will travel to Arrowhead to take on the Kansas City Chiefs and the Bills will get ready for the ArizonaCardinals at home.