Despite an absurd amount of penalties, there were a lot of promising things to take away from this game for the Jets. Their young quarterback showed progression, and the defense flashed dominance.
Here are takeaways from the Jets' win over the Bills.
The performance of the Jets defense will be overshadowed by the incessant penalties (more on that in a bit), but the Jets proved Sunday that they are the league's top defense.
Whether it was turnovers or penalties, the defense was able to answer the call time and time again to minimize the damage. Before the Bills' touchdown drive in the second half, the Jets forced four field goals in unfavorable situations.
They also got after EJ Manuel, sacking him eight times and never allowing him to get comfortable. Outside of one penalty-ridden drive and a missed tackle on Fred Jackson, the Jets were about as perfect as you can ask for on defense.
The Bills are not exactly an offensive powerhouse, but the Jets have shown that they have the potential to be a truly dominant defense this year.
The Jets defense was as stellar as you could ask for—but it simply could not play within the rules, and it nearly cost it the game. The Jets had an incredible total of 20 penalties.
Fortunately for them, their defense was good enough to overcome them (which is a testament to the defense), but there is no way the Jets can win on a consistent basis with so many penalties.
The yellow-flag fiasco peaked when Kyle Wilson had four penalties on a drive, including a personal foul that got him benched. The penalties wound up extending the Bills' drive that resulted in a touchdown and tied the game.
The Jets have never had penalty problems before this, so this should not be a weekly occurrence—but it will certainly be a focus moving forward.
It may have taken a while and had some drama to come along with it, but Santonio Holmes is looking more and more like his old self with each passing week.
Holmes' game-winning touchdown catch-and-run is one of the best plays of his Jets career, but he was also clutch on a handful of third downs. He moved around well and made several difficult catches.
Holmes has been very shady as to revealing how healthy he is to the media—and for good reason. Lisfranc injuries can be very tricky and painful—claiming that he is fully healthy would only create an avenue for more criticism.
Holmes may not be 100 percent healthy for a while, but he has proven that he can still be a reliable weapon for the Jets this season.
The Jets started the game with a heavy dose of Chris Ivory—and apparently Bilal Powell took offense. Ivory left the game with an injury, but the running game actually got better when Powell took the load by himself.
While not as physical as Ivory, Powell is more sudden, agile and adept in the passing game—and it showed with his 149-yard performance in which he averaged 5.5 yards per carry. He found cutback lanes and showed a burst that was missing from earlier games.
The Jets never viewed Powell as an every-down back, but it is hard to make the argument that he is incapable of carrying the load after this performance.
After getting benched last week, Dee Milliner responded with a very nice game in which he looked like the ninth-overall pick for the first time as a Jet.
When Milliner was targeted, he had his man pinned against the sideline and was in control of the situation. Most importantly, he was looking for the ball rather than guessing—which helps avoid costly pass interference penalties.
Plus, the fact that Kyle Wilson struggled so much only helps Milliner's chances of getting his starting job back.
Many questioned the Jets when they handed Milliner the job in training camp, but it appears as if head coach Rex Ryan's decision to bench him last week is paying dividends. If he continues to play this well, he should regain his starting job in no time.
Santonio Holmes made the game-winning reception, but Stephen Hill was just as effective generating big plays for the Jets.
With over 108 yards receiving (including a 51-yard touchdown), Hill made up for his drop- and fumble-ridden performance against the Patriots last Thursday night. He had no drops and opened things up for Holmes later in the game.
Hill has always been a talented player, but he has never been able to clean up his game in terms of route running and catching the ball; he showed signs of turning a corner on Sunday.
If his performance against the Bills was any indication, Hill may be figuring out this NFL thing after all.
Muhammad Wilkerson has built his reputation as a dominant run defender, but he has developed into something much more dynamic.
After his two-sack performance, Wilkerson has proven that he is now an all-around superstar who never should be taken off the field.
With tremendous athleticism and length, it is no surprise that Wilkerson is such a dominant player, so quickly playing both the run and the pass. He is now better at using his hands and applying interior pressure that destroys passing plays.
The combination of Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson has given the Jets the best group of interior pass-rushers in the NFL.
Outside of a few blemishes that included an ugly interception to Kiko Alonso, Geno Smith has made noticeable improvements in his decision making from a week ago.
Prior to this game, Smith was having serious issues getting rid of the ball in a decent amount of time, taking sacks he had no business taking and wasting tremendous pass protection.
This week, he was decisive, getting rid of the ball on time and hitting his receivers in stride. Rather than run around in the pocket unnecessarily, Smith's quick decision making allowed the Jets to sustain offense and keep the defense well-rested.
The fact that his receivers actually caught the ball this week certainly helped his confidence as well.
Any rookie is going to have a few ugly plays every week, but the fact that Smith is steadily improving with each start is the most promising thing the Jets can take from this game.