Sunday’s Jets-Bills game was a statistical mismatch in defense, with the Bills among the NFL’s elite and the Jets, yes, not.
But for most of the day at Highmark Stadium, the Jets held more than their own, frustrating Bills quarterback Josh Allen before disappearing into a 27-10 loss that won the AFC East title for Buffalo.
It looked bad early on for the Jets, who came back with 10-0 and looked like they could be run out of the building. But they tightened up and eventually forced the Bills to score seven times after not scoring at all in the previous two games.
The Bills eventually broke through with two late touchdowns to reach it, but the defense did what it could, giving an offensive total of 53 yards – the lowest number in franchise history.
It was a satisfying comeback for a defense that saw Bill win, 45-17, at MetLife Stadium in November – and continue to throw the ball, even after the result was no longer in doubt.
In the week leading up to the match, Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said: “I would definitely say there are some guys, probably including myself, in some ways who want some redemption.
“When a team has a comfortable lead on you and they keep throwing the ball deep at you, it leaves a mark; it leaves an impression.”
Linebacker CJ Mosley said that “the moment you felt the disrespect,” but when the team took the field at Orchard Park, there were more immediate priorities at stake against a division opponent.
“As a team, we really wanted to show what we have for our last game and really try to put something together,” he said.
Quarterback Zach Wilson said of the defense: “Incredible, man. I mean it’s a really good offensive and the guys they got ready to go slowed them down, gave us endless opportunities, good field position.
“I thought the guys were playing light-out today. They enabled us to really do whatever we wanted … Hats off to those guys.”
Coach Robert Saleh said, “Really, really pumped up for the defense. They played their absolute butt off. I know the stats don’t look like that. But if you just watch the tape, I mean it was, it was hard to sled around the pitch for a little while in the defense and just could not get anything going in the attack to give them a break.
“But we are really, really proud of the defense in the way it played out today and hopefully something that we can move forward with, take with us to the 2022 season.”
As Saleh said, the statistics did not look good. Buffalo had a total of 424 yards offensive, including 170 rushing.
Defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins admitted it was frustrating to see the end result given the way the defense played.
But everyone who watched knew how good the Jets defense was and how excited Allen was – and knew that this was not the same defense that Bills saw in November.
“A lot of things happened in that game that we just weren’t happy with,” Rankins said. “So when we got into this one, we knew we were going to go out on a high note.
“We wanted to come in and perform and play our brand of defense and our brand of football and go out and play the games we knew we could make last game but were unable to do and I felt , that we did it most of the time. “