The Buffalo Bills went to the Meadowlands ranked 6th in the league in rush defense. They allowed 318 yards rushing on Sunday.
They went in ranked near the bottom in pass defense. They limited Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez to 119 yards.
The Bills' defense picked off Sanchez five - that's right, five - times, claiming a 16-13 overtime victory in a game uglier than sin. The promise Sanchez showed in the Jets' first three games - all wins - has plummeted faster than the ratings for "The T.O. Show". Buffalo's defense, bolstered with the addition of leader Paul Posluszny, did a complete 180. The rush defense was absolutely horrendous, giving up long runs to Thomas Jones, who ran for a franchise record 210 yards. The pass defense was borderline epic, effectively shutting Sanchez down.
Jairus Byrd, the rookie out of Oregon, looked like a seasoned veteran in the secondary. He picked Sanchez off twice and is showing tremendous promise. He's had three picks in two games. George Wilson also had a pick on the Jets' first possession of the second half, which led to a Rian Lindell field goal.
Buffalo quarterback Trent Edwards went down hard in the second quarter and didn't return. A hard hit by Bart Scott left him dazed and it took time for him to get to the sideline. The people critical of Edwards got their wish today when backup Ryan Fitzpatrick got his chance to play. He went 10-25 for 116 yards with a touchdown and a pick, performing admirably in the absence of Edwards.
Fitzpatrick, an Ivy League graduate, commanded the offense and kept Buffalo in the game. A 37-yard pass to Lee Evans for a touchdown invigorated a deflated Buffalo team. Evans finished with four catches for 68 yards, and was a right-foot drag away from having a 100 yard game.
Rex Ryan's "brilliant, jaw-dropping, hard-hitting" defense looked less than spectacular. Evans split and burned New York's secondary on his touchdown catch. Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson ran hard, bruising their way to a combined 100+ yards. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis shut down Terrell Owens, limiting him to just three catches on the day.
Overtime saw more possession changes than a bad hockey game. When Rian Lindell missed the game-winning field goal as time expired, Buffalo fans everywhere could already feel the heartbreak. It didn't help when the Bills lost the coin toss. A long pass to Braylon Edwards from Sanchez got New York close and a long Thomas Jones run got them even closer. However, penalties killed New York's possession, making Jay Feely attempt a 50 yard field goal.
What looked like a fake-field goal attempt turned out to be a bumbled snap - the Jets' tried to salvage the play, but special teams extraordinaire John Wendling picked it off.
Buffalo had a glimmer of hope. In an almost comical moment, Fitzpatrick tossed a pick. However, this game still wasn't over. Sanchez threw a pick the next possession, and the Bills marched down the field. Lindell redeemed himself with the game winner.
Let's not kid ourselves, people. This game was ugly. Buffalo has a long way to go to become a contender in this division. Sitting at 2-4, they're kicking themselves after last week's Cleveland debacle.
If Edwards stays hurt, Fitzpatrick gets a chance to shine. He could be the answer this offense is so desperately lacking. The offensive line held up well and with a little more time could turn into a solid front five.
The defense is what was most impressive. Donte Whitner and Terrence McGee both left with injuries, but the secondary didn't miss a step. Finally, the Bills have their own "Byrdman". Byrd is turning into the ballhawk Buffalo drafted him to be. The return of Posluszny didn't just add a better skill set - he's the leader of that defense, and you can see how much more confident the "D" was. Reggie Corner also had a pick and George Wilson brings veteran leadership.
This win may or may not signal Buffalo's resurgence. If the offense can click with Fitzpatrick at the helm and the defense keeps shutting the door on offenses, this season might be salvaged.