The Jets beat the Bills in spite of themselves yesterday afternoon.
A franchise-record 20 penalties for 168 yards gave the Bills a chance to win the game. Sprinkle in two turnovers — both interceptions thrown by rookie quarterback Geno Smith — and head coach Rex Ryan had every right to be angry at his post-game press conference.
But instead, Ryan was smiling even as he said the Jets’ sloppiness was unacceptable. He rationalized that if the Jets could win despite their sloppy play, they can only go forward from here.
“The thing that makes me most happy is that I know this team is going to get better,” Ryan said. “There’s no way we can’t. Twenty penalties? That’s on my shoulders, no question about it. I know we can get better. Just think how good we can be if we can eliminate the penalties and the turnovers. Twenty penalties and two turnovers and we won the game. I guess I’m excited because I know we can get better. I know we can. It’s on coaching. I know we’ll get it correct, there’s no doubt. I’ll be the first one to step up but I love the fact that our team found a way to win.
“Take away all the other stuff. We found a way, we persevered and we won. That’s really encouraging to me. That tells you about the fight and the spirit of this football team.”
The sloppiness reached an apex in the fourth quarter when concentration needed to be at its finest. Instead, the Jets committed mental error after mental error and nearly gave away the game.
On the Bills first possession of the fourth quarter, cornerback Kyle Wilson committed three straight penalties on three straight plays, including two personal fouls. Wilson was benched after the third penalty although he eventually return.
The Bills went on to score via a pass over the middle from E.J. Manuel to Scott Chandler. They would convert the ensuing two-point conversion to even the game at 20-20.
Wilson nearly cost the Jets the game.
“In the heat of battle, some things happen. We needed to get him out of there, sit back, think about it and calm it,” Ryan said. “He came back and entered the game. Some things happen. You can’t put your personal situation in front of the team.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.