What a difference eight weeks makes. After getting thoroughly beaten in Week 1 by the Buffalo Bills, the New York Jets returned the favor on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium with a 34-21 victory of their own.
The win snaps a three-game losing streak for the Jets (4-5) as they continue to be the surprise of the league despite running into fourth-quarter issues during their recent skid.
They didn’t solve all of those problems despite the win as the Bills scored a pair of touchdowns in the final five minutes to make the scoreline look more respectable.
Quarterback Josh McCown continued to show that he has plenty left in the tank despite being a 38-year-old journeyman, managing New York’s win to perfection as he recorded 140 yards through the air on 14-of-20 passing, an additional 16 on the ground and two total touchdowns.
He opened up the night’s scoring with his legs, recording a 10-yard rushing touchdown, his third of the season on the ground. That’s more than five NFL teams have this season (Seahawks, Lions, Giants, Bengals, Dolphins).
McCown continued to force his way into surprising leaderboards when he hooked up with Robby Anderson for a 25-yard touchdown in the third quarter to open up a 17-7 lead. The connection was McCown’s ninth touchdown of 15 yards or more this season, which actually leads the NFL.
While he stayed consistent, the Jets run game came alive after they were held to just 43 yards last week against the Atlanta Falcons. Granted, there was added motivation for the ground game to do well after they were outplayed by Buffalo in Week 1. In the Bills 21-12 win, the Jets were outrushed 190-38 as they simply did not have an answer for LeSean McCoy.
McCoy couldn’t do a thing against a motivated Jets front seven, generating just 25 yards.
Meanwhile, Matt Fote and Bilal Powell were running with purpose, recording 74 and 77 yards respectively to highlight a night in which the Jets put up 194 rushing yards.
Forte had a pair of touchdowns on the night, one from 10 yards out in the third and another from half that in the fourth. His final touchdown of the night came off the Jets’ third takeaway of the game when Tyrod Taylor was stripped by Juston Burris deep in Bills (5-3) territory.
It was an uncharacteristically careless night for Buffalo, who entered Week 9 with just three turnovers all season.
However, the offense was constantly under siege by an impressive-looking Jets defense. After recording 11 sacks in their first eight games, New York racked up seven sacks on Thursday night alone. And that was against a Bills offensive line that cleared the way for 166 rushing yards while allowing no sacks in Week 8 against the Oakland Raiders.
While the playoffs are still a pipe dream, the Jets are now just 2.5 games out of first place in the AFC East with the Patriots and Dolphins having a game in hand. Not bad for a team expected to win one or two games heading into the 2017 season.