It’s taken a while, but the Buffalo Bills finally put together a full game. The Bills stomped the division rival New York Jets, 37-14. This puts the Bills at 4-7 on the season, and 2-2 in the AFC East.
So how were the Bills able to dismantle the Jets? Glad, you asked.
Quarterback E.J. Manuel played efficiently in his 2nd game back from a knee sprain. Last week, Manuel and the offense could not get going. This week, Manuel played at the level he was at before the knee injury. Manuel went 20/28 for 245 yards and 2 touchdowns Sunday. Manuel seems to be more comfortable in the offense, allowing Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to open up the playbook a little more. E.J.’s 2 touchdown passes came on long bombs to 2nd year receiver T.J. Graham and fellow rookie Marquise Goodwin. E.J. showed off his arm strength, throwing both of them into the wind on what was a very windy day in western New York.
Defensively, the Bills tormented Geno Smith. Smith accounted for 4 turnovers in the game, before getting benched in the 4th quarter. Jairus Byrd intercepted Smith twice, and Da’Norris Seacry took his 1 interception to the house on a botched screen play. When the secondary wasn’t intercepting Smith’s errant throws, they were batting balls down left and right. Smith went 8/23 passing on the day, only managing to throw for 103 yards. This secondary is looking better and better as the season goes on, now that all the starters are in mid-season form.
The defensive line did a great job of keeping pressure on Geno all afternoon. The Bills sacked Smith 4 times, with Kyle Williams leading the charge with 2 himself. The constant pressure undoubtedly contributed to Geno’s 3 interceptions. The Bills also did a good job of not letting Smith escape the pocket and make plays with his legs. Smith didn’t gain a single yard on the ground, marking the first time in his young career that he had no rushing yards.
The only negative to the Bills performance on Sunday was in the running game on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Buffalo’s running backs could not get anything going against New York’s stout defensive line. Buffalo was only able to accumulate 68 yards on the ground, most of it in garbage time in the 4th quarter.
Defensively, the Bills continued to struggle to stop the run. This has been the one constant problem the Bills have had all season. The Bills allowed the Jets to rush for 134 yards on only 23 carries. It wasn’t as bad as it has been in recent weeks, but definitely something that needs to be tightened up in the bye week.
For the first time in what seems like forever, the Bills took charge of a game and dominated through all 4 quarters. This is the kind of performance I have been waiting to see all season. All the talent is there, and it was great to see the team play up to their potential.