After last week’s five-point disappointing loss to the Patriots, the Jets were hoping to head into next week’s bye on a positive note.
But Gang Green would have to defeat a Buffalo Bills team that many experts consider the best team in the NFL at the halfway point of the year.
The Jets were 12.5-point home underdogs in Sunday’s affair, but someone forgot to tell the team that.
Jets (6-3) upset the Bills (6-2) 20-17 on a cloudy, off-and-on rainy 75-degree day at MetLife Stadium in front of a sellout crowd.
“I know a lot of people are going to be surprised,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “I don’t think there’s a person surprised in that locker room.
“It was a hard-fought game, it’s a damn good football team, a well-coached football team over there. They have championship aspirations, but I don’t think there’s a guy in that locker room that didn’t think we could win.”
After throwing three interceptions against the Patriots, Zach Wilson had an efficient day as he completed 18 of 25 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown.
Gang Green’s rushing attack also played a huge role in the victory as the team registered 174 yards on the ground. Michael Carter led the way with 76 yards and a touchdown run on 12 carries.
Wilson was criticized all week by people in the national media, local reporters and even former NFL players. But he outdueled the front-runner for the 2022 NFL MVP.
Wilson said he didn’t let the outside noise bother him.
“Of course, it feels good because of what we did,” Wilson said. “I don’t care what anyone says.
“I’ve done that my whole life, but it is a huge team win. We came out balled out, you saw what our defense did, the takeaways
“We showed the run game on that last drive. I’m excited about all three phases as that was pretty cool.”
Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who is considered one of the favorites for the MVP, struggled against the Jets defense. He completed 18 of 34 passes for 205 yards and two interceptions. The Jets defense also sacked Allen five times.
Gang Green also shut down one of the best wide receivers in the league, Stefon Diggs. After his 42-yard catch in the first quarter, Diggs caught just four passes for 51 yards.
To begin the game, Braden Mann slipped on the opening kickoff as Bills cornerback Cam Lewis recovered on the team’s 45-yard line. Following a 42-yard pass play to Stefon Diggs, Jordan Whitehead intercepted a pass on the 14-yard-line.
Buffalo’s second drive of the afternoon went better than its first. The Bills drove 67 yards on 14 plays as Allen’s legs got the team into the end zone. An 11-yard run play by Allen set up a one-yard touchdown that gave Buffalo a 7-0 advantage.
The Jets got points on their second drive as well. A 15-yard pass play to Garrett Wilson, along with a facemask penalty against Jaquan Johnson on James Robinson helped the Jets get in field goal range as Greg Zuerlein cut Gang Green’s deficit to 7-3.
More than midway through the second quarter, the Bills again found the end zone after a Jets punt. Receptions of 14 and 17 yards by Diggs helped put Buffalo in Jets territory. On the 3rd and 2 on the Jets 36-yard line, Allen ran for a 36-yard touchdown, his second of the day as that extended the Bills lead to 14-3.
Before halftime, the Jets got into the end zone for the first time. A Wilson-to-Wilson connection for 24-yards put the Green and White into Bills’ territory. Then Carter’s 10-yard reception was followed up by a six-yard run, which cut the Bills’ lead to 14-10 at halftime.
Following the halftime break, the Jets received the ball and drove down the field to the Bills 22-yard-line before a 12-minute delay. The CBS sky cam at MetLife Stadium fell down on the field and the officials halted the game, which called boos from both Jets and Bills fans.
“I have never seen nothing like that,” Garrett Wilson said about the sky cam delay. “I was out there vibing and chilling and staying loose a little bit. The truth is when it is time to go out there, I’m going to be ready.”
Once the delay was over, the Jets offense couldn’t maintain the same momentum. On 3rd and 6, Wilson was stripped and sacked by Von Miller as A.J. Epenesa recovered as Buffalo took over on its 29.
However, the Jets would get the ball back two plays later as Sauce Gardner picked off Allen on the Bills 35-yard-line. Four plays later, Wilson found Robinson for a seven-yard touchdown reception that gave the Jets a 17-14 lead late in the third quarter.
The Bills tied the game at 17-17 on the next drive as running back James Cook helped them get into Jets territory. Once Buffalo’s drive stalled, Tyler Bass settled for a 51-yard field goal, which tied the game.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Jets went to their running game, which paid dividends. Robinson’s 16-yard run along with Carter’s 17-yarder had the fans chanting “let’s go Jets” as they were deep into Bills territory. The grind-it-out attack took minutes off the clock. Wilson then connected with Denzel Mims on a crucial third down to move the chains.
After a stop on third down, the Jets kicked a 28-yard go-ahead field goal by Zuerlein gave them a 20-17 lead with 1:43 left.
“I think more than anything, it is just the first downs,” Carter said. “You stay on the field and you wear the defense down.
“Quarterback made good decisions, made throws when he had to make them. Guys up front were blocking their butt off.”
The Bills had one final chance to tie the game with less than two minutes left. Huff’s sack and strip left Buffalo a 4th and 21 situation on their 14. But a Allen pass to Gabe Davis was knocked away by Gardner and that gave the Jets the victory.
“As a defense, we played well,” John Franklin-Myers said. “We got turnovers, we get the quarterback down and the NFL knows that.
“Just another game and we have to do it the week after that and next game. At the end of the day, we have to go out there and prove it.”
The Jets will have a bye during Week 10 before returning to the field on Nov. 21 as they will play at the Patriots. Buffalo will return home next week as it will take on the Minnesota Vikings.
New York will head into its bye week just a half-game behind the Bills for first place.