Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- Well, that escalated quickly.
Coming off their worst performance of the season last weekend in Pittsburgh, the Buffalo Bills fought right back and had their most convincing win ahead of both their bye week and the easiest three-game stretch of the season.
Simply put, the Bills dominated in almost every single facet of the game. They closed the game when they needed to and answered a lot of detractors from last week in the process.
At 4-7 they're still going to need quite a run if they're hoping for a playoff bid, but their 37-14 win over the New York Jets was the best start possible. How'd they get that key victory? Here are some reactions from the Bills' most recent effort.
Manuel bounces back
- In his first game back in over a month, EJ Manuel was not effective against Pittsburgh until the game didn't matter any longer. He was missing passes that he should always hit, and the offense had their worst performance of the season. Fast forward to Sunday, a game against the Jets with swirling winds, Manuel had a quality performance against a defense that has played quite well as of late. The rookie quarterback was hitting on the intermediate throws that plagued him against the Steelers, finding his targets on comeback routes, slants and out routes with well-placed passes. Even just after one week, the buzzards were circling Manuel following the Pittsburgh game despite rookie seasons being notorious for their peaks and valleys. However, Manuel answered back with a strong throw down the field to Marquise Goodwin for a touchdown right after another deep ball completed to T.J. Graham. Did he make some mistakes? Sure. Did he in anyway jeopardize the Bills from coming away with the victory? Not even in the slightest. Now it's on Manuel to pick up victories against three teams that have a 5-25 combined record on the year.
Byrd proving his worth
- Ladies and gentlemen, the real Jairus Byrd is back. He's been showing glimpses throughout the season since his return from a bout with plantar fasciitis, and even popped last week with an interception against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Byrd followed that up with one of his biggest games as a member of the team. Two interceptions, a sack and another hard hit on the quarterback on a third down play made Byrd into one of the biggest reasons the Bills won so soundly. It was only a matter of time before the safety got back to his level of abilities, and it seems like he's finally in sync with Mike Pettine's defensive philosophies in full. The Bills will have another hearty decision on their hands at the end of the season, but the drop-off from Jairus Byrd will be noticed if they intend to walk away from him at the end of the year. He's playing his way into a big contract once again.
Hackett on the sidelines
- After 10 games in the booth, enough was enough for offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. He ditched the sterile, stuffy room in the press box for the real-feel approach. Hackett made all the play calls from field level and that was likely a welcomed addition in his mind. He could coach up EJ Manuel on the sidelines in between drives the way he saw fit and he could react and allow his rather energetic personality get into the game unlike any other time this season. It's hard to argue with the results in this contest, especially considering Manuel had one of his best games as a member of the team. Nathaniel Hackett patrolling the sidelines on game days appears to be here to stay.
What in the world is going on with C.J. Spiller?
- With all the good must come a little bit of bad. People of the court, you're presented with the curious case of C.J. Spiller. The running back got five more carries in this game than he had the week before against Pittsburgh, but his performance was incredibly worse. Granted, the Bills were up against the top rushing defense in the NFL, but Spiller's day was inexcusable. "It was terrible," Spiller said of his own performance, and it's hard to argue. 13 carries, six yards. No, that's not a misprint or a typo. Spiller averaged under half-a-yard per carry and his longest rush was only three yards. For all the success the Bills have had in other areas, Spiller has seemed to regress in this offense. Perhaps he's bouncing too many runs outside once again, but the Bills need to figure this situation out. It can't get much uglier than Sunday, though.
Inexperience wins out at receiver
- Hats off to the trio of receivers that stepped up for both Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods as they nursed their respective injuries. Marquise Goodwin had a breakout game, T.J. Graham finally made the impact he's been longing to have and Chris Hogan was a safety blanket for Manuel when he needed him on key situations. Goodwin and Graham combined for two straight deep receptions that all but put the nail in the coffin for the Bills. It was only a matter of time and opportunity for Goodwin to bust out that way. He's been showing flashes all season long and he finally had the game some thought he could.
Bad, bad, Geno Smith
- When things go south for Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith, they go there in a hurry. Three interceptions, two fumbles, one lost. The Bills had Smith's number all game long and took away any lingering confidence he and the Jets had from their upset win over the New Orleans Saints two weeks ago. Byrd and the Bills secondary had a tremendous opportunity against the likes of Smith because he has been known to tip a defender off as to where he's throwing the ball. As is the case with any team and a young quarterback, they go as he goes. The Jets need to find a way to make sure the lows aren't as much as a precipitous drop from the highs as they currently stand. The Bills did an extraordinary job of making Smith uncomfortable all game long, and to recover from their Week Three loss to the Jets where the passer had one of his best games of the season.
- As expected, it was a tough week for left guard Doug Legursky. He didn't get a chance to go up against Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson in the team's first game in New York, but he now understands why Colin Brown had nightmares about the defender after the game. Wilkerson wasn't as dominant in terms of sacks and forced fumbles in this contest, but a nine tackle effort and one tackle for loss certainly shows a player that was disrupting the running game all day long. On the day, Bills running backs gained 45 yards on 29 carries which comes out to 1.55 yards per rush. It wasn't all Legursky's fault and it wasn't all Wilkerson's doing, but it was just a mismatch from the onset with the defender's mix of size and strength against the short-limbed offensive lineman.
Kyle Williams having a dominant season
- Going up against rookie left guard Brian Winters for some of the time, Kyle Williams had yet another strong outing to add to his 2013 campaign. Very quietly he's been the best player on the Bills roster this season and he still has to take every Wednesday off to rest his Achilles -- meaning he's not even fully healthy. The emergence of Marcell Dareus in his third season has certainly helped Williams by leaps and bounds, but Williams has even upped his game to a Pro Bowl level. Will he get in? It's tough to say with the amount of solid defensive linemen in the AFC. However, Williams has been all over the field for the Bills and a two sack game against the Jets helps describe his dominance.
Bills' MVP: S Jairus Byrd - Two interceptions and a sack, three interceptions in the past two weeks. Yeah, Jairus Byrd is back.
Bills' LVP: HB C.J. Spiller - 6 yards on 13 carries. Enough said.
Up Next: OFF. Enjoy the bye week, everyone!
- The Bills desperately needed this win not only to keep themselves alive in the playoff race, but to keep last week's loss in Pittsburgh from snowballing for the rest of the season. Manuel looked good, the young receivers stepped up, the defense was dominant and the Bills seemed to find a formula that works for offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Just as it was a challenge for head coach Doug Marrone to build his team back up from the Steelers loss, it will be his duty to keep the Bills from resting on their laurels of their most lopsided victory of the season and not get complacent against Atlanta (2-8) in Week 13. Overall, Sunday was the game Marrone and his team had to be waiting for. Outside of the rushing attack, the Bills were the better team in every phase of the game.