Jets beat mistake-prone Bills
The Buffalo Bills could not get out of their own way and the New York Jets were there to capitalise on every miscue in a 34-21 win.
The Jets pounced on three Buffalo fumbles and rolled to victory in the NFL at MetLife Stadium on Thursday.
Two Buffalo fumbles were of the odd variety as wide receiver Jordan Matthews simply dropped the ball while reaching for an additional yard. Tight end Nick O'Leary was then stripped following confusion on the field about whether he was touched after making a diving catch.
Turnovers were not the only issue for the Bills, who were flagged 11 times for 99 yards. One of the worst penalties was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on defensive end Jerry Hughes, who gave the Jets an extra 15 yards after it appeared they were stopped short of a first down and likely would have punted from their own 40.
As the Bills offence struggled to get anything going, the Jets offence set the tone early by running the ball on nine of their first 11 plays from scrimmage. Bilal Powell and Matt Forte ran for a combined 151 yards behind a Jets line that controlled the line of scrimmage.
It was a disappointing outing for the Bills (5-3), who would have moved into a tie with the New England Patriots (6-2) atop the AFC East.
JETS SAVE THEIR SEASON FOR NOW
A loss to the Bills would have all-but eliminated the Jets from contention in the AFC East, but thanks to a dominant defensive effort, New York (4-5) remain within striking distance of the first-place Patriots. The two teams will play each other in the regular-season finale on December 31.
The Jets were the aggressors from the start on Thursday, sacking Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor seven times while hitting him on 11 occasions. The Bills were held to just 307 yards of total offence and only 63 rushing yards as LeSean McCoy had just 12 total touches. Taylor was 29 of 40 for 285 yards through the air and ran for a team-high 35 yards, but the sacks were killer.
RUN THE BALL AND STOP THE RUN
The Jets found their identity on Thursday, pounding out 194 rushing yards on 41 carries. Even 38-year-old quarterback Josh McCown was involved in the early ground game, scrambling for a 10-yard score to give New York an early 7-0 lead.
New York's best run of the night was a 51-yard jaunt by Powel to set up Forte's 10-yard TD with 4:16 remaining in the third quarter. Tight end Eric Tomlinson was key on both runs.
TRADE FOR BENJAMIN EVEN MORE IMPORTANT FOR BILLS
Zay Jones had his best game as a professional, catching six passes for 53 yards. The rookie receiver from East Carolina scored his first NFL touchdown as part of his breakout game.
Jones left late in the first half with an ugly knee injury, but returned for the start of the third quarter. He left for good early in the fourth quarter after aggravating the hyperextension of his right knee. Jones, who was selected in the second round of April's draft, came in with high expectations after setting both the NCAA single-season and career receptions record.
While Jones got on track on Thursday, none of the other Buffalo receivers did. It is even more vital to get former Panthers receivers Kelvin Benjamin — acquired in a trade on Tuesday — involved in the offence if the Bills are going to be an AFC contender.