Jets head coach Todd Bowles refused to say that their Week 2 tilt with the Buffalo Bills was a must-win affair, but judging by the way Gang Green played, there was a sense of urgency behind their 37-31 win.
Despite the short week, little prep work, and a lost day for travel, it was the Jets (1-1) that looked like the fresher and more in-synch team. Gang Green christened the New Era Field stadium and called it its own, as they dominated the game statistically and sandwiched impressive efforts in the second and fourth quarters to take the life out of the home crowd and the Bills (0-2).
The victory snapped a five-game losing streak to their reviled rival.
Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick entered the game 0-2 against the Bills since arriving in New York, last season, but he acquitted himself in stellar fashion as he went 24-of-34 for 374 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions.
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His favorite target, wideout Brandon Marshall, testified to the greatness that is Fitz-magic.
“This guy is legit. So many people got down on him saying it was his fault. But it wasn’t all on him,” Marshall said, referring to last season’s finale win-and-in scenario in Buffalo. “I stood on the table for Fitz [during the testy contract negotiations]. I believe in Fitz, and I think he proved himself tonight.”
New York hadn’t started the season 0-2 since 2007, and that streak will remain intact. It’s a good thing, too, considering a postseason berth is stacked against any team that losses its first two games, as there’s a 12-percent chance of making the playoffs – a task that now faces Rex Ryan’s Bills.
Metro takes a look back at key storylines, as the Jets now get 10 days off to get ready for their Week 3 opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs.
What We Saw:
Fitz-magic: Fitzpatrick has been at the mercy of Ryan’s defensive schemes for most of his career, but the journeyman signal caller finally cracked the code with an outstanding performance. Both teams wore their new-age “Color Rush” uniforms, but it was Fitzpatrick and the Jets who went throwback and played like an AFL franchise by slinging the ball all over the field. Fitzpatrick averaged 11 yards per attempt and 15.6 yards per completion. And to put that into perspective, all-time greats barely average nine yards per attempt in any given game, meaning Fitzpatrick was really on. Such a performance may force offensive coordinator Chan Gailey to continue to allow his pupil to grip it and rip it going forward. Because if Fitzpatrick can shred a very good Buffalo secondary, he’s capable of doing so every week.
Fab Five: Fitzpatrick wasn’t the only high-flying Jet, as he had the pleasure of throwing to two 100-yard receivers and handing off to a 100-yard rusher in the same game. It was just the second time in franchise history that the Jets had a 300-yard passer, two 100-yard receivers, and a 100-yard rusher in the same game. Marshall, who had a little scare in the first half when he appeared to tweak his knee, finished with six receptions for 101 yards. His sidekick Eric Decker was the best wideout on the field, though, as he tallied six catches for 126 yards and a touchdown. Even third option Quincy Enunwa decimated the stellar Bills secondary with six receptions for 92 yards before exiting the game for good late in the third quarter with a rib injury. Running back Matt Forte recorded his first 100-yard rushing day as a Jet and finished with three rushing touchdowns. Bowles simply shrugged and said their “big time players made some big time plays.” And if they continue to do so, maybe Gang Green can actually survive their brutal early-season stretch.
Private Real Estate No More: Darrelle Revis’s famed island has officially gone from a place of no return to a wideout’s favorite place of destination, as it now appears open to the public. The Bills struck quickly on its opening drive, as Tyrod Taylor connected on a deep pass to Marquise Goodwin down the right sideline for an 84-yard touchdown. Goodwin, who made a gallant yet unsuccessful run at the Rio Summer Olympics in the track-and-field trials, burned Revis on the play. It was the second-straight week that the future Hall of Famer was targeted on a deep touchdown. Offenses no longer have to fear Revis, despite Marshall’s claims that the cornerback is still elite.
“I stand in front of the world and say Darrelle Revis is the best cornerback in the league,” Marshall said afterwards. “He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He’s given up some big plays, but that’s OK. He’s still the best.”
That’s obviously Marshall sticking up for his teammate, but the tape doesn’t lie. Teams with star wideouts – especially of the speedy type – will be intensely studying film of the past two weeks to see how they can also attack the island.
Gang Green notes:
- The Jets defense wasn’t all bad, as they didn’t allow the Bills many plays inside the red zone, as Buffalo’s first snap in the red zone didn’t come until the 1:30 mark of the fourth quarter.
- Cornerback Marcus Williams picked off a pass for the second-straight week.
- Decker hooked up with Fitzpatrick for a touchdown for the second-consecutive game when he caught a quick five-yard slant in the end zone for the score. It was Decker’s sixth-straight game with a touchdown, tying Marshall, who did it last season. Decker has now scored a touchdown in 14 of his last 17 games.