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Bills topple Jets in Ryan’s return

In a game between Rex Ryan’s old team and Rex Ryan’s new team, it’s no surprise that the biggest winner on Thursday night was Rex Ryan.

Not only did the former Jets coach get revenge on his old team thanks to a 22-17 win at MetLife Stadium, but he did it in the most Rex Ryan way possible: By riding his defense.

The Bills won a good old-fashioned slugfest against the Jets thanks to a defense that forced four turnovers. Actually, the defense only forced three of them because fourth came on a huge special teams play in the first half that changed the game.

Over a nine-second span in the second quarter, the Bills scored nine points to turn a 3-0 deficit into a 9-3 lead. The wild sequence started when Ryan Fitzpatrick was intercepted by Corey Graham.

Three plays after the Graham interception, the Bills were forced to kick a 47-yard field goal. The kick went through the uprights with 5:47 left in the second quarter, then things got wild on the ensuing kickoff.

Devin Smith fielded the kick for the Jets, but he couldn’t hold on to it and he fumbled before he was tackled. Buffalo’s Duke Williams then scooped up the ball and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown.

By the middle of the third quarter, the Bills pushed their lead to 22-3 and it looked like Ryan was going to be able to relax. That didn’t happen, though, because the Jets clawed back with two Fitzpatrick touchdown passes in the second half that cut Buffalo’s lead to 22-17.

That’s when Ryan got exactly what he probably dreamed about all week: A fourth-quarter showdown between his defense and the opposing offense in a winner-take-all-battle.

The showdown happened because Bills punter Colton Schmidt fumbled a snap deep in Buffalo territory with just over five minutes left in the game. The Jets recovered the ball at the Bills’ 13-yard line and at that point, all that stood between the Jets and a win over their old coach was 13 yards.

Ryan’s defense didn’t break though. The Bills limited the Jets to six yards on four plays and kept New York out of the end zone.

The Jets would get the ball back one more time, but Bacarri Rambo ended any hope of a Jets comeback when he picked off Fitzpatrick on the Jets’ final offensive play of the game.

“You guys (media) made this game about me,” Ryan said after the game. “It was never about me.”

Rex Ryan was excited about beating his old team. (NFL Network)
Rex Ryan was excited about beating his old team. (NFL Network)

WHATEVER REX! Ryan was fired by the Jets back in December 2014 after six seasons with the team and you have to think, he loved the fact that the media focused on him this week.

More importantly though, Ryan loved that the win put the Bills (5-4) in a better position to get to the playoffs.

“We knew it was going to be a slugfest,” Ryan said. “Wouldn’t be surprised if that game decides who goes to the playoffs.”

Ryan might be right. There are currently three 5-4 teams in the AFC and if the season ended today, the Bills would be the fifth seed in the conference, ahead of the Jets (No. 6) and the Steelers (No. 7).

Here’s nine more things to know about Buffalo’s win over New York.

LeSean McCoy was making people look silly. Earlier this week, it looked like there was a chance McCoy wasn’t going to play on Thursday due to a shoulder injury. It’s a good thing he did play though because the Bills probably wouldn’t have won without him.

McCoy ran for 112 yards against the Jets and averaged 5.89 yards per carry, but don’t let those numbers fool you, he also did damage on shorter runs. Take this play for example. On a third-and-2 with just under two minutes left in the first half, McCoy was left for dead about 10-yards behind the Bills line of scrimmage, but still managed to get the first down.

It was a big first down too, because the Bills ended up driving deep into Jets territory and getting a field goal just before halftime that gave them a 12-3 lead.

There was also some vintage McCoy, you know, the guy who can turn what looks like a 3-yard gain into a 12-yard gain by juking people out of their pants.

McCoy’s 112-yards tied a season-high. The Bills running back also hit that total in Buffalo’s Week 9 win over the Dolphins on Sunday.

Karlos Williams makes history. Although Williams was bottled up for the most part against the Jets, he did make one big play on Thursday and that play allowed him to make history. On the Bills’ opening offensive drive of the third quarter, Williams caught a pass from Tyrod Taylor and went 26-yards for a touchdown. The score means that Williams has now reached the end zone in the first six games of his career, which ties an NFL record.

Overall, Williams finished with 50 total yards in the game (26 yards receiving, 24 rush).

Bills had a case of the dropsies. The Bills could have blown this game open in the first quarter if linebacker Manny Lawson had been able to hold on to a pass that was thrown right to him by Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The ball hit Lawson right in the hands and if he would’ve caught it, it would’ve been the easiest pick-6 of his life.

Lawson shouldn’t feel too horrible though because he’s on defense and it’s not his job to catch the ball. However, it is Sammy Watkins‘ job to catch the ball and he had a big drop in the game also. On a third-and-5 from the Jets’ 29, Taylor threw a pass that hit Watkins right in the hands.

However, Watkins somehow managed to drop that pass and the Bills were forced to kick a field goal.

Lawson and Watkins both had big drops, but no drop was bigger than the one by Bills punter Colton Schmidt that almost cost his team the game in the fourth quarter.

With the Bills clinging to a 22-17 lead late in the fourth quarter, Schmidt headed out to punt from his own 29-yard line. However, Schmidt never got the punt off because he fumbled the snap and then the Jets mauled him.

The good news for Schmidt is that the Bills defense held the Jets to zero points, even though New York took over on Buffalo’s 13-yard line.

Fitzpatrick is the smartest guy in the Ivy League. Ryan Fitzpatrick might not be the best quarterback in the NFL, but he’s the best quarterback in the NFL who went to an Ivy League school. Fitzpatrick, who graduated from Harvard, threw two touchdown passes in the game and the second one gave him the all-time record for most touchdowns by a player who went to an Ivy League university. Fitzpatrick now has 137 career touchdowns.

The Jets quarterback passed Sid Luckman, a Columbia grad, who threw 136 touchdown passes between 1939 and 1950. It hasn’t been a good week for Luckman, who was also passed by Jay Cutler for the Bears‘ all-time passing touchdown record.

As for Fitzpatrick, the Ivy League record might have been the highlight of his night because he struggled against Buffalo, going 15 of 34 for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Fitzpatrick, who’s scheduled to undergo surgery on his left thumb on Friday, also threw two interceptions.

Jets also had a case of dropsies. The Bills weren’t the only team suffering from the dropsies on Thursday night, so were the Jets — and the Jets drops were probably worse because they came in pivotal situations.

Let’s start with Eric Decker. On third-and-3 from Buffalo’s 6-yard line, Fitzpatrick threw him a perfect pass.

That ball is definitely in his hands and he should definitely catch that. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “He’s about to get leveled, why is it such a big deal that he dropped it?”

It’s a big deal, because all Decker had to do was catch the ball and fall down to get a first down. You can see below how far past the first down marker he was.

After the drop, the Jets went for it on fourth down and didn’t get it, which is something we’ll talk about in a second, but first, we have to talk about the Jets’ other big drop.

During the first quarter, Fitzpatrick threw a perfect pass to Brandon Marshall that hit Marshall right in the hands.

Marshall couldn’t hold on to the pass, though, and the ball ended up being picked by Corey Graham, who’s in the bottom right corner of the picture. You can see the entire play below.

Marshall (3 catches, 21 yards, 1 touchdown) and Decker (6 catches, 85 yards, 1 touchdown) both scored touchdowns in the game, but those scores were overshadowed by their huge drops.

Baffling fourth down calls from Todd Bowles. Of course, everything was overshadowed by the Jets’ baffling fourth down play-calling late in the game.

The first failed fourth-down attempt came on a fourth-and-2 from Buffalo’s 20 with just over 14 minutes left in the game. On the play, Fitzpatrick threw a short pass to Marshall, who literally had no chance to get the first down because he was tightly covered and he was three yards behind the line of scrimmage when he caught it.

It wasn’t Marshall’s fault that he couldn’t get the first down, Fitzpatrick either shouldn’t have thrown the ball or the Jets should’t have called a play that had Marshall running such a short route.

There was also another fourth down play were Fitzpatrick made a baffling throw. On fourth-and-4 from the Bills’ 7, Fitzpatrick threw a pass out of the end zone.

Fitzpatrick WENT TO Harvard, so he should’ve KNOWN that throwing the ball out of the end zone isn’t an option on fourth down with just three minutes left in the game and your team trailing 22-17. Throwing an incomplete pass is one thing, but you at least have to give your guy a chance to catch the ball on such a pivotal play.

Why were both team wearing colors? If you were watching the game, you may have noticed that neither team was wearing a white uniform: The Bills were wearing red while the Jets were wearing green. If you weren’t watching the game, the Bills were in red and the Jets were in green.

That didn’t happen because the Bills forgot to bring their white uniforms, it happened because Thursday marked the first night of the NFL’s Color Rush campaign. A total of eight teams offered to participate in the campaign this year, meaning you’ll be seeing non-white jerseys in three more Thursday games between now and Dec. 17.

The Bills, who wore all-red for the first time in team history, won’t be the only team undergoing a dramatic uniform change either. The Jaguars will be wearing a gold jersey on Thursday Night Football in Week 11 (Nov. 19). The Rams are also scheduled to wear a gold jersey on Dec. 17 vs. the Buccaneers.

The color rush campaign will completely take over the NFL in 2016. All 32 teams will have a special color rush jersey and they’ll wear that jersey when they play on Thursday next year.

Color-blind people did not enjoy the colored uniforms. Some people, like Odell Beckham, really enjoyed seeing both teams in colored jerseys.

However, color-blind people hated the colored uniforms and that’s because most color-blind people are red-green color-blind, meaning they had not clue which team was doing what on the field on Thursday.

If you’re not color-blind and would like to know what it’s like, here’s a brief clip of what it was like trying to watch the Bills-Jets game for people who are red/green color-blind.

I’m guessing the NFL probably won’t be having the Jets and Bills wearing those jerseys in the same game ever again.

The commissioner made an appearance. Roger Goodell didn’t take part in the Color Rush, but the NFL commissioner did make an appearance at the game on Thursday.