The New York Jets lacked an explosive disposition in their Week 1 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, but they had an awakening Thursday night, earning a 37-31 win over the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field.
Although Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for only 189 yards last Sunday, he shredded the Bills' vaunted secondary thanks to the help of wide receivers Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Quincy Enunwa.
Fitzpatrick completed 24 of 34 passes for 374 yards and a touchdown, and the Jets favored deep passes that kept cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby on their heels all night long Thursday, per NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal:
Decker led the way with six catches for 126 yards and a touchdown, and he's now recorded at least 80 receiving yards or a touchdown in 18 straight games, according to Rotoworld's Evan Silva.
Marshall added six catches for 101 yards. He suffered what appeared to be a scary left knee injury that sent him to the locker room in the second quarter, but he returned to the field and smoked Darby on several occasions in an impressive display of resilience.
Enunwa, who exited the proceedings with a rib injury in the third quarter, notched six catches for a career-high 92 yards.
Then there was Matt Forte, who bullied his way to 100 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries against a defensive front that appeared to be gassed in the second half.
The Bills offense wasn't consistent or efficient, but quarterback Tyrod Taylor (18-of-30, 297 yards, three touchdowns, one interception) came up with a monster rainbow down the right sideline on Buffalo's first drive of the game that hit wide receiver Marquise Goodwin in stride for an 84-yard touchdown against Darrelle Revis.
NFL Network shared the replay:
The completion—which was the Bills' longest at home in team history, per the team's public relations department—prompted observers such as ESPN's Michael Smith and Kirk Morrison to note how Revis' status as one of the league's shutdown cornerbacks has waned:
The New York Daily News' Manish Mehta suggested Revis—who was torched in Week 1 by A.J. Green—needs the Jets to scheme more safety help over the top to hide his lack of downfield speed:
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Jets have already allowed two touchdowns on passes thrown more than 50 yards past the line of scrimmage this year. In 2015, there were only three such scores in the entire league.
But with the exception of the long-distance burn, the Jets dominated the first half.
Despite being forced to settle for field goals on their first two drives, the Jets responded with touchdowns on their next two possessions thanks to a short-yardage plunge from Forte and a five-yard pass from Fitzpatrick to Decker.
At halftime, the Jets owned a 20-10 lead, had outgained the Bills 258-175 and tallied a 16-6 advantage in first downs.
However, those disparities didn't deter the Bills.
Taylor used his legs to extend a 3rd-and-6 on Buffalo's first drive of the third quarter, and his scrambling opened a window for him to toss a mammoth 71-yard touchdown pass to Greg Salas, as the NFL captured:
Four plays later, Bills cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman scooped up a Jalin Marshall fumble and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown to help Buffalo seize a 24-20 lead in the blink of an eye, as the NFL showed:
The Jets appeared listless for a brief stretch, but a composed response on the heels of the scoop-and-score thrust New York back into the lead.
Although the Jets could have spiraled out of control, Fitzpatrick orchestrated a 12-play, 84-yard drive that Forte capped off with his second score of the game.
Up 27-24, the Jets kept their momentum rolling with a Marcus Williams interception to open the fourth quarter before Nick Folk tacked on a 36-yard field goal to push the lead to six.
Forte iced the game by scoring another touchdown with 4:02 remaining, and the Jets coasted from that point forward.
While it was just Week 2, the Jets will face arguably the league's toughest slate over the next four weeks, when they meet the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals in consecutive games.
As for the Bills, their upcoming schedule isn't much more appealing.
Head coach Rex Ryan's club will host the Cardinals on Sept. 25 before traveling to Gillette Stadium for a clash with the New England Patriots, which means the Bills could be 0-4 when they meet the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 9.
In desperate need of a win, the Bills will need to come up with a performance that keeps panic at bay when they welcome the reigning NFC West champions to New Era Field.
"Our big-time players made some big-time plays," Jets head coach Todd Bowles said, per Mehta.
Speaking of big-time players, Bowles added that Brandon Marshall’s left knee was "sore or a slight sprain," according to Newsday’s Kimberley A. Martin.
"Brandon is one of the toughest guys you'll ever see," Fitzpatrick said, per the team’s official Twitter account. “I thought he was down for the count for sure."
The Bills, on the other hand, were left to wonder what went wrong.
"I never expected this," Ryan said, per WKBW’s Joe Buscaglia.
"Right now, it'd look daunting against anybody," he added. "We have to get better."
"We have to get a lot better," Ryan said, per NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling. "Brandon Marshall told me he was going to kick my butt tonight and he did."