The NFL has been alerted. The New York Jets are legitimate. They are going into their bye-week riding one the franchise’s most important wins in years, defeating the Buffalo Bills 20-17 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. They earned the respect of the Bills and many doubters and are now 6-3, thick into playoff contention with eight games remaining. There’s still a lot of season left but the Jets seem to have staying power.
The victory over the Bills put the Jets at 6-3, tied with the 6-3 Miami Dolphins for second place in the AFC East. The 5-4 New England Patriots make the division the only one of eight in the league in which every team is over .500. The Jets’ position has shocked close followers of the NFL. Many predicted the Jets would win six games at best all season.
“It’s been a long time since they’ve had success like that,” said Bills linebacker Von Miller, a future Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl champion with the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Rams. “The Jets did a great job today. Hats off to those guys. They’ve built up a great team.”
The Jets held the Bills to their lowest point total of the season and ended their four-game losing streak. They sacked Buffalo’s Josh Allen five times and held the MVP candidate to no touchdown passes for the first time this season and intercepted him twice.
“They did a great job rushing the quarterback,” said Miller. “When I’m sitting there and I’m watching, I’m always drawn to the defensive ends and tackles, and they brought the pressure…they really did.”
Down 14-10 at halftime, quarterback Zach Wilson’s seven-yard touchdown pass to running back James Robinson with 4:03 remaining in the third quarter put the Jets up 17-14. Buffalo tied the score on a 51-yard field goal at 13:13 of the fourth quarter but the Jets took the lead back late in the fourth at 1:43 on a 28-yard kick by Greg Zuerlein.
The Jets’ defense sealed the game as they didn’t allow Allen and the Bills to move the ball into field goal range for a potential tying score. It ended with Buffalo failing to convert on fourth-and-21, and in the final series of plays Allen suffered an ulnar (elbow) collateral ligament in his throwing arm.
The Jets’ sensational rookie cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner was crucial in helping to stop the drive as he has been the entire season. Gardner’s interception of Allen in the third quarter was his second of the season.
Wilson, who hasn’t been elite, and struggled mightily in the two previous games leading up to the Bills, had a bounce-back performance. Wilson didn’t silence critics but protected the ball and made smart decisions. He was turnover free after throwing three interceptions in Week 8 in a 22-17 loss to the Patriots. Overall Wilson was 18-25 for 154 yards and one touchdown versus the Bills.
“We expected to win this game,” he said confidently.
After their bye-week, the Jets return Nov. 20 to play the Patriots in New England.