Three weeks ago, the season was spiraling out of control for the Buffalo Bills. Now, they officially control their own fate after the 10th week of the NFL season.
Bills safety Bacarri Rambo forced two fumbles and had the game-sealing interception as the Bills beat the New York Jets in head coach Rex Ryan’s return to the Meadowlands on Thursday night. It wasn’t a pretty game, by any means. Buffalo had the Jets in a 19-point hole, but let them claw back to within five points. The Bills sputtered for long stretches on offense, but did just enough to help Buffalo to second in the AFC East and move into fifth place in the AFC.
Bills running back LeSean McCoy had 112 yards rushing and added 47 yards receiving, while fellow running back Karlos Williams scored a touchdown in his six straight games, which has tied an NFL record. Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor was 17-27 for 158 yards and a touchdown.
Jets running back Chris Ivory had 99 yards rushing after only having 84 yards rushing in his last three games, while Jets wide receiver Eric Decker had 6 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Here are some observations after the Bills’ win:
- Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins was matched up with Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, and on the stat line, it didn’t bode well. Truth is, if Taylor had more time in the pocket, he would’ve been able to deliver more accurate passes to Watkins when he beat Revis. Watkins did have a dropped pass as well after beating Revis. Revis did have Watkins shadowed on many plays as well, and still is one of the true shutdown corners in the NFL. But the stats will tell you Revis won by a long-shot, which is not the case. It was more 60-40, Revis.
- Speaking of shutdown corners, Bills rookie cornerback Ronald Darby allowed just one catch in his vicinity. Do you know which one that was? It was a catch for a two yard loss to Jets wideout Brandon Marshall. Darby has been fantastic opposite of Stephon Gilmore, and has even out-shined Gilmore at times, with that game against the Jets as one of those cases. The Bills found something truly special at pick #50 in the 2015 NFL Draft. Gilmore had a solid game as well, Decker’s successes came mostly at the expense of undersized corner Nickell Robey, while Marshall’s touchdown was a very well drawn up play.
- Buffalo’s offense revolves around McCoy and Williams, simple as that. With the two of them healthy, this Bills offense is able to make plays. McCoy averaged 5.9 yards per carry against a stout Jets defense. McCoy was able to show patience, and hits the edge for an outside running play better than almost anyone in the NFL. When McCoy gets to the edge on a run, you start sitting on the edge of your seat, ready for some Shady magic. As for Williams, all he seems to do is score touchdowns. Williams had a quiet day by his standards, but still found the end zone.
- Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick showed why the Jets are limited in their potential. He missed on several deep passes that would have made Buffalo pay, and in signature FitzTragic fashion, he forced a pass for an interception on a potential game-winning drive. Fitzpatrick has never played a Rex Ryan-led defense well, and this game was no different: Fitzpatrick was 15-34 for 193 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Jets played a good enough game defensively, but bad Fitz came out, which Bills fans have seen to be troublesome in the past.
- Buffalo’s special teams have been quite special at giving other teams an advantage. Rambo’s fumble returned by safety Duke Williams for a touchdown on a kickoff was the first good play by the special teams unit all season. It also overshadowed a myriad of penalties on punts, which altered field position against the Bills, punter Colton Schmidt dropped a snap that almost led to the Jets taking a lead, and kicker Dan Carpenter also missed a PAT. Add in some paltry returning by Leodis McKelvin and Daniel Herron (who replaced an ineffective Denarius Moore), and Ryan may need to re-evaluate if special teams coordinator’s place on Ryan’s staff.
- Who should Bills fans be cheering for this weekend? Cheer for the Eagles to put down the Dolphins, the Browns to upset the Steelers and the Vikings to beat the Raiders. Realistically, those are all able to happen. For the Steelers, they may not have their starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. The Vikings are a legitimate threat (See Louie DiBiase’s story on the Vikings here on BLTD), and the Dolphins can’t seem to beat any good teams.
- Also, can we stop with the IK Enemkpali coin toss… thing? Rex Ryan named him a captain against a former team. No one had the same outrage over guard Richie Incognito, who was part of a scandal in Miami that essentially cratered the team in 2013. It’s because Enemkpali’s punch to Jets backup quarterback Geno Smith is still fresh. Everyone will forget in a year or so, anyway. It’s not the biggest disgrace of the NFL, as ESPN’s Ian O’Connor would lead you to believe. That award goes to Greg Hardy still playing football.
WHAT’S NEXT: Out of the frying pan and into the fire for the Buffalo Bills (5-4, 3-1 AFC East). They get 10 days to prepare for the unbeaten New England Patriots (8-0, 3-0 AFC East) in Foxboro on November 15th, on Monday Night Football.
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