The Jets were ready for their national closeup.
Playing at MetLife Stadium in their only scheduled national TV game of the season, against the hot division-rival Buffalo Bills, no less, the Jets were in a ticklish spot in which to snap their three-game losing streak tonight.
But they were up to the challenge and the spotlight, as Bilal Powell and Matt Forte led the running game's rebound with a 194-yard rushing effort while Jordan Jenkins, Demario Davis and Darron Lee spearheaded the pass rush's resurgence to a seven-sack swarming of the normally elusive Tyrod Taylor.
The result was the Jets' 34-21 victory over the Bills. The endgame wasn't a classic beauty as Buffalo rallied for two TDs in a span of 1:41 in the final five minutes. But the Jets then put it away to improve their record to 4-5 and drop the Bills to 5-3.
Here are eight takeaways from the Green & White win, in which they scored their most points in a game since last year's Game 2, also on Thursday night and also against the Bills (at Buffalo), that one a 37-31 victory:
1. Different Start ... Still Fast
The Jets were vying for a piece of franchise history by scoring on their opening drive for the fourth straight game, something only Joe Namath's '72 Green & White outfit achieved. Instead, they missed a third-down conversion by a foot and punted on their first series. But on Drive No. 2, they moved 54 yards on eight plays. QB Josh McCown, who scrambled for a third-down conversion, capped it off with a rolling 10-yard scramble for the TD, marking the fifth straight game the Jets scored first and the fourth straight that they scored the first TD for a 7-0 lead.
2. Bills Payback
The rest of the first quarter was an exchange of punts, until the Bills got their footing and began their first serious drive of the night. The visitors didn't score a first-quarter TD for the eighth game this season, but they made up for that on Tyrod Taylor's 10-yard pass to rookie WR Zay Jones in the back of the end zone between Juston Burris and Jamal Adams on the second play of the second frame to knot the score at 7-7.
3. Rare Forté Flag
The Jets appeared to have capped their second half-field drive with a nice McCown dance and toss to TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the end zone. But ref Jerome Boger ruled there was a Jets penalty on the play — an offensive pass interference for a pick thrown by Matt Forté. If that sounds unusual, that's because it was the first penalty called on the venerable NFL back in his 25 games in green and white. The hosts had to settle for Chandler Catanzaro's 45-yard field goal and a 10-7 lead. But Forté had better plays to come.
Top Snapshots from the Week 9 Matchup Between the Jets and Bills at MetLife Stadium
4. Under Pressure
Demario Davis and Muhammad Wilkerson scored a daily double with back-to-back sacks of Taylor before another punt by the visitors. With the Jordan Jenkins takedown on the Bills' first scrimmage play, the Jets' pass rush had its first three-sack first half since taking down Andy Dalton five times in the 2016 season opener vs. the Bengals. And when Darron Lee got on the fun with an ankle tackle of Taylor, the Jets had four second-quarter sacks, their most in any quarter since the five-sack fourth period of the 2014 finale at Miami.
Could all this pressure and a strong, no-giveaway finish produce the Jets' first win in a month? They had 30 minutes to answer that question.
5. Firing Up the Fireman
The Jets knew they needed a better finish than they had the previous three fall-from-ahead weeks. They got started on that project on their first series of the second half, driving toward the red zone before McCown loaded up and launched a 25-yard pass to Robby Anderson in his favorite right corner of the MetLife East. Suddenly it was 17-7 and lo and behold, Fireman Ed was in the house. Great to see and hear him leading the J-E-T-S chant on through the ensuing kickoff, but the Green & White still needed to finish strong over the last 24:50 on the clock.
6. Shades of J-ville
Bilal Powell last really cut loose in Game 4 vs. Jacksonville. He didn't quite nail another 75-yard touchdown jaunt, but his twisting, dancing, bursting 51-yarder as the third quarter was winding down was a thing of beauty and a burst of energy, setting the hosts up in the red zone for the second time at Buffalo's 10. And like the first time, the Green & White converted on a 10-yard run, although this time it was Forté sweeping right and reach across the goal line. With 4:16 left in the third frame, the Jets and Forté were not done.
7. When It Rains ...
The last 11 times the Jets took a lead into the fourth quarter in a home game against the Bills, their record was 11-0. No guarantees, of course. The Jets all knew they needed a strong final 15 minutes.
And then they opened their advantage to 31-7. This time it was Forté on a 5-yard run up the middle for his second TD of the night and his fifth on TNF vs. Buffalo in two years.
And how did he get there? Because the Jets got their sixth sack — yes, sixth — and this time it was their first strip sack of the season as Jenkins hit the scrambling Tyrod from behind for the strip with Davis scooping it up and rambling to the 5.
8. Finally, Fireworks
The Bills continued to be discombobulated, going 4-and-out from their 32. The Jets converted that field position on Catanzaro's 32-yard FG for a 34-7 lead with 6:42 to play and it looked over. On the visitors' next drive, it really looked over as DL Kony Ealy wrapped up Taylor for his first sack as a Jet and the Jets' seventh sack of the evening.
But the Bills proceeded down the field to their second touchdown, then recovered the onside kick when Austin Seferian-Jenkins let Stephen Hauschka's high-hopper go through his wickets. Another TD drive to Taylor's 1-yard keeper made it 34-21 and set up another onsider.
This time rookie WR ArDarius Stewart, taking ASJ's spot on the hands team, controlled the spinning onsider from Stephen Hauschka. A 10-yard Elijah McGuire run for a first down took it down to the two-minute warning, then McCown kneeled three times and then the sights and sounds of fireworks went off to signal the much-needed W on TNF.