Piling up all the things the Jets did wrong on Sunday paints a picture of another gut-crushing loss born of self-inflicted wounds.
The scoreboard says differently, however. The Jets held on for a 27-20 win over the Bills at the Meadowlands on Sunday despite 20 penalties for 168 yards, two interceptions by Geno Smith and ham-fisted management of challenges by coach Rex Ryan.
Without those things, this would not have been a close game because the Jets defense ate up E.J. Manuel and the Bills offense. Manuel finished the day 19-of-41 for 243 yards and was sacked eight times by a Jets defense that brought a relentless amount of pressure. For all his foibles, Ryan can coach up a defense and he’s done just that by building around young defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson.
It was a 20-6 game in the third quarter when the Bills clawed back into the game with the help of Jets blunders. A Kyle Wilson pass interference call set up one field goal and Smith’s second interceptions set up another before Wilson went totally haywire in the fourth quarter. He committed penalties on four straight plays, including a pair of personal fouls that led to a brief benching. Ryan’s mismanagement of the challenges also hurt as he couldn’t challenge what looked like a Manuel fumble on the same drive. The Bills scored their lone touchdown of the day and got the two-point conversion to tie the game.
The tie would be broken a few plays later when Smith hit Santonio Holmes for a 69-yard touchdown. Holmes had his biggest day in almost three years with five catches for 154 yards while Stephen Hill also caught a touchdown and went for 108 yards on a day when Smith’s mistakes were more than balanced out by some big plays down the field. He wound up 16-of-29 for 331 yards and also ran for a touchdown. Bilal Powell kicked in 149 rushing yards to help boost the Jets to 2-1 on the season.
It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the win was a much better brand of ugliness from the Jets.