Rex Ryan made his New York homecoming a memorable one, leading the Bills to a 22-17 win over the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Thursday Night Football.
Ryan – always bombastic, never bashful – said all week that this game wasn’t about him. Well, after beating the franchise that fired him 11 months ago, Ryan couldn’t have been happier.
“Listen, we’ve all been there,” The NFL Today on CBS analyst Bart Scott said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “We’ve all went to a former place where we were employed and we’ve all wanted to do well. Sometimes it’s the motivation that we use the entire year. It’s also a huge game within the AFC.”
Indeed, the Bills improved to 5-4 with the win and went from seventh to fifth in the AFC. There’s still a lot of football left to be played, of course, but the Bills – at least for now – control their own destiny,
“(A loss) really would have hurt their chances for a Wild Card,” Scott said of the Bills potentially dropping to 4-5. “He was losing the locker room with guys speaking out. Now guys are buying in.”
The Bills entered Thursday night with a middle-of-the-pack defense – both in yards and points allowed – but it’s safe to say that unit won Buffalo the game. The Bills forced four turnovers, including a special teams fumble by Jets rookie kick returner Devin Smith. Duke Williams scooped up the fumble and ran 19 yards to the house to make it 9-3 late in the first half.
Buffalo took it from there, limiting Ryan Fitzpatrick to 15-of-34 for 193 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Bills sacked Fitzpatrick once, bringing him down for a three-yard loss.
“People want to talk about the sacks and the lack of sacks,” Scott said. “Everybody’s spreading them out and throwing the ball. That’s just what happens when you adjust.”
The Bills, meanwhile, won despite being held scoreless in the second half. Tyron Taylor was 17-of-27 for 158 yards and a touchdown, while LeSean McCoy rushed for 112 yards and had five catches for 47 yards.
Still, Buffalo had just 280 total yards and was 5-of-16 on third down.
“I thought that Buffalo missed an opportunity,” Scott said. “They played a little bit too tight and they really didn’t decode Todd Bowles’ blitzes for awhile, either. They missed opportunities, I think, to go empty and throw screens. That’s how you beat that stuff: screens and pick routes.”
As for theatrics, IK Enemkapli, a captain for the game, did not find his way into the box score. Brian Jones wondered if Todd Bowles should have named Geno Smith captain and trotted him out for the coin toss, but Scott was glad he didn’t.
“That’s not Todd Bowles’ style,” Scott said. “It would have looked unauthentic. It wouldn’t have went over well with your team because that’s not you. People can see through that. If it’s not you, don’t go outside of your character. That’s how Rex rolls. He’s comfortable with that. He’s comfortable with the scrutiny that comes along with that. His team can go around with that.”
The Bills have some time off before playing the Patriots (8-0) in Foxboro on Monday Night Football on Nov. 23, while the Jets (5-4) play the Texans (3-5) in Houston on Nov. 22.