The Jets defense paid the Bills and then some this afternoon. Faced with the duty of stopping an explosive Buffalo offense, they smothered Freddy, Fitzy and the gang at their house and helped the Jets earn a critical 27-11 divisional road victory in Orchard Park, N.Y.
These Green Monsters registered three takeaways in the Week 9 triumph and made a Bills outfit, a unit that had averaged 34.3 points a game in three games at Ralph Wilson Stadium, appear utterly helpless much of the day. In fact, at one point in the third quarter, the Jets had their three turnovers and the Bills had managed just three first downs.
It all started with a shutout in the first half, keeping the home faithful almost silent. Aaron Maybin, a first-round pick of the Bills in 2009, should have received two assists on a pair of picks. His pressures helped force Ryan Fitzpatrick into two critical second-quarter mistakes. The Harvard product stepped up and never saw OLB Calvin Pace over the middle near midfield. Pace registered his third career interception and the Jets were in business 87 seconds before intermission.
“We showed a certain look and then squeezed back to the inside, and we got the route,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “Great design by Mike Pettine and Bob Sutton on that one, and Calvin did a tremendous job.”
Set up in plus territory at the Bills 39, the visitors failed to capitalize as Nick Folk’s 50-yard field goal attempt sailed right. Undeterred, the Green & White intercepted another Fitzpatrick toss intended for Nelson as David “Hitman” Harris bobbled and then corralled it on the Bills’ side of midfield two plays later.
Mark Sanchez couldn’t handle the ensuing shotgun snap and the ball went right back to the home squad. But this fearsome unit, playing without DT Mike DeVito, held on downs and was the reason the Jets held a 3-0 lead after 30 minutes.
“We had a lot of self-inflicted wounds in the first half, especially on offense,” said S Jim Leonhard, a former Bill. “We moved the ball up and down the field. Defensively we had a good beat on them. They were struggling to get yards.”
In the first half, Fitzpatrick was just 4-of-12 for 24 yards in addition to the two picks. Coverage was stellar throughout and the Jets allowed just 73 yards in the first half while the Bills were on the field for 9:13.
Sione Pouha, playing without his pal DeVito, delivered a crushing blow to Bills Nation early in the third. His pop of Freddy Jackson resulted in a loose ball that Leonhard recovered at the 19. Three plays later, LaDainian Tomlinson scored the game’s first TD and the Jets went up, 13-0.
“It was nice getting that turnover and kind of jump-starting everything,” said Leonhard.
But the lead felt like 30-0 because the explosive Bills were bottled up by the Green Machine. Stevie Johnson’s first reception — a career-long 52-yarder — in the third came against, surprisingly, Darrelle Revis and set up a field goal. The NFL’s most dominant defender blanketed Johnson when the game was tight and Antonio Cromartie made Donald Jones invisible.
“We know how to play here,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “They spread us out to run the ball and they do different things. Our back end did a tremendous job.”
Sanchez and the offense got rolling late and it was blowout city for a second consecutive season in Western New York. Jackson never got on track and was held to 82 yards on his 18 carries while Fitzpatrick had another rough experience against the Rex Ryan/Pettine unit.
It seemed like nobody was ever open when the game was in doubt (Fitzpatrick had a passer rating of 2.8 in the first half) and he finished 15-of-31 for 193 yards. The Bills had the ball for just 22:08 and were 3-of-11 on third down.
With Buffalo down, 20-3, and crawling to get close, Bart Scott and Pace stopped Jackson on fourth-and-1 from the Jets’ 16. It was fitting the Madbacker was in on the stop because the Jets played mad as hell.
“It’s totally attitude,” said Pouha, who led the team with seven tackles and played alongside youngsters Muhammad Wilkerson, Marcus Dixon, Ropati Pitoitua and Martin Tevaseu up front. “It’s ‘Jets-itude,’ the way we look at it. Play like a Jet, going out there in attack mode. I think today kind of displayed what Jets football is all about.”
New York’s AFC representative is 5-3 at the season’s midway point and will get another crack at the Patriots next week at MetLife Stadium. The Jets have won three in a row and indeed look like a team ready for another run.
Tags: Buffalo Bills, Calvin Pace, Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Fred Jackson, Rex Ryan, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Sione Pouha
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