1. 'D' gets pressure
The game did not get off to a great start for Buffalo's defense as Sam Darnold and the Jets offense were in an early rhythm and scored on two of their first three possessions to stake themselves to a 10-0 lead.
After that however, Buffalo's defense clamped down and rendered the Jets offense powerless.
New York rolled up 193 yards and 10 points on their first 30 offensive plays. On their last 22 plays from scrimmage they gained just 25 total yards. The Jets were stuck in neutral for the entire second half. On five second-half possessions they managed just four total net yards, with three of those five possessions going for zero or negative yardage.
"I thought our defense stepped up and did a heck of a job in the second half," said head coach Sean McDermott. "I give credit to Leslie (Frazier) and our defensive staff. They did a phenomenal job at half time and the players were the ones that executed in the second half. And they got back to playing Buffalo Bills style defense and flying around. It was fun to watch."
The sudden dearth of yardage for the Jets was due in part to Buffalo's most successful pass rush of the season. Frazier made some timely blitz calls and the players executed effectively in bringing Sam Darnold to the turf six times in the game, the most in a game since Nov. 17, 2019 against Miami.
Darnold completed 10 of his first 11 passes for 107 yards, but the pressure on the Jets quarterback had its intended effect. He completed just two of nine passes for 14 yards for the remainder of the game.
Captain Jerry Hughes was at the center of the effort with a strip sack as well as an interception on a batted pass by Quinton Jefferson to seal the game on the Jets final possession.
Hughes tied for the team lead in tackles with six, had a pair of sacks, two quarterback hits and a pass breakup.
"I definitely wanted to come out here and set the tone, I think that was just all of us on the defensive side of the ball," said Hughes. "Working with our coaching staff, and everything just fell perfectly into place, the second half we came out with a new objective, new goal, we weren't going to allow them any more points and we were going to try to do our best to get off the field and when you challenge us like that, we answered that call. I was really happy to see us on the defensive side of the ball figuring out ways to get off the field on third down."
The Jets, who came into the game with the worst third-down conversion rate in the league of 30.2 percent, were even worse against the Bills going just two-for-eight (25%).
What seemed to work particularly well were the timely blitzes of defensive backs. Dean Marlowe, Jordan Poyer, Tre'Davious White each had at least a shared sack. The other key piece was the deployment of linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano in the two 'A' gaps on the defensive front.
"When you've got mugged up linebackers man it causes some confusion for the O-line," said Edmunds. "And we let our defensive ends and tackles work some with that double mug look, so I think that definitely showed just because of the pressure it got on the quarterback."
After Darnold had success in using bootlegs or roll outs to move the ball in the passing game, the defense adjusted and did a much better job of hemming him in the pocket. From there they would just collapse the pocket with blitz pressure or clever twists and stunts.
"It was huge," said Hughes. "It was big for our confidence. It's good to see guys come alive and bring that energy. We don't have the fans to quiet the offense down or to really provide that juice for us so we have be out there doing it on our own and it's great to see guys flying around really answering that call in the second half. We understood this challenge of a division game. It was another chance for us to beat the Jets at their home field so we want to come up there and do so. It was a good day for us."
2. Beasley is 'Mr. Reliable'
Cole Beasley has often been characterized as a heady and crafty player out of the slot. On Sunday when the Jets refused to give up any deep pass plays, Beasley served as Buffalo's chief weapon in keeping drives alive.
On 12 total targets, Beasley made a single-game career high 11 receptions for a game-high 112 yards. Most of the veteran receiver's plays were underneath and were critical in keeping the offense on schedule and converting first downs.
"He was great for us," said Josh Allen. "That's the benefit of having a guy like Cole. Super smart, obviously he sees zone defense very well. He knows when to find zones and sit down and [give] me good body language. So we were working him there for the better part of the game. He stepped up for us and when teams want to drop back and put seven or eight in coverage we've got to find ways to continue to move the ball and he's been awesome for us."
One of Beasley's better plays came with seven seconds left in the half. Josh Allen found him on the left side for a quick slant and he ran another 10 yards before sliding to give himself up so there would be enough time to call a timeout. It allowed Tyler Bass to attempt a 48-yard field goal, which he put through to close the Jets lead to 10-6 at the break.
On the team's first possession in the third quarter, Beasley again put the team in a position to score. After an end around play by Isaiah McKenzie was sniffed out by the Jets and went for an 11-yard loss, it was followed by a false start penalty putting the Bills in a 2nd-and-26 situation at the Jets 36.
Allen found Beasley for an eight-yard gain again getting Buffalo close enough for Bass to hit from 46 yards out to pull the Bills within one (10-9).
Finally, on the team's last scoring drive, Beasley turned in back-to-back receptions for 18 and four yards helping again to position Buffalo for a 40-yard field goal to give the Bills an eight-point edge with two minutes remaining.
Beasley had at least one reception on eight of Buffalo's nine possessions before the final kneel down series at the end of the game. His 11 catches were the most by a Bills receiver since Sammy Watkins had 11 against the Jets on Jan. 3, 2016.
"Brian Daboll does a good job of giving guys stuff that plays towards their strengths, and he's done that with me since I got here," said Beasley. "He's made it a lot of fun for me, and he allows me just to do what I do and I'm glad he leaned on me a little bit and gave me a lot of opportunities, just glad I can find some open spaces for Josh and get open for him. There's a few that I want back but all games go like that so I just want to do my job and help Josh out as much as I can."
3. Tyler Bass has up and down day
Buffalo's rookie kicker prepares to be called into action every single week, but Tyler Bass likely didn't expect that he'd be providing all the points in Buffalo's 18-10 victory over the Jets on Sunday.
The Bills had to rely on their rookie kicker as their offense saw many of their scoring drives stall in the red zone.
On the first occasion when they turned to Bass, the rookie hooked a 45-yard attempt preventing Buffalo from tying the game early at 3.
Fortunately, the rookie responded on his very next attempt bombing a 53-yarder that appeared to get him back on track. Bass would hit from 48, 46 and 37 yards away, before missing another 37-yard attempt early in the fourth quarter that could've pushed Buffalo's lead from two to five points.
He did finish strong as he was successful on 29 and 40-yard attempts to close out the game with six field goals on eight attempts (75%).
"Tyler Bass I know had a couple miscues," said McDermott. "But at the end of the day he made some big time kicks in some big time moments in the game."
Bass' six field goals tied a team record for most in a game with Bills' all-time leading scorer Steve Christie, who also did it against the Jets on Oct. 20, 1996.
"It's amazing," said Bass about tying the record. "I just couldn't have done it without the guys up front, couldn't have done it without Reid (Ferguson), Bojo (Corey Bojorquez), the coaches for believing in me, but a good feeling. That'd be one that's most important. I know I've got some things to clean up, but other than that I was very proud of what happened and take that and just continue to move forward."
The rookie kicker felt all those opportunities in a tight game were valuable experience for him.
"It's definitely a huge confidence boost," he said. "It definitely just helps me get more experienced more comfortable being out there."
Bass' 18 total points are the most scored in a game by a Bills rookie or first-year player since Willis McGahee had 24 points with a four-touchdown game at Seattle on Nov. 28th, 2004. He's the first Bills player with an 18-point game since LeSean McCoy had a three-touchdown game against San Francisco on Oct. 16, 2016.
Bass is now 12 for 17 on field goal attempts this season (70.5%) with three of his five misses coming from between 30 and 39 yards. It seems odd that a kicker with such a big leg would miss from in closer, but Bass addressed some of what he's tried to put into practice following some of his earlier misses this season.
"Sometimes when you get a shorter kick you try to do more than you have to do," said Bass leading up to Sunday's game. "Sometimes you try to kick it farther than you have to kick it. You don't need to do that and sometimes you just get carried away so that's something I've learned quickly. I've had to learn to just treat everything like an extra point. Don't try to overdo it. And just let it take care of itself."