The Jets got Sam Darnold back at quarterback after missing the previous three starts. It took a while but Darnold provided one of the late highlights of this gray season by orchestrating the first fourth-quarter comeback victory of his short career, a 27-23 success over the Bills at New Era Field in the cold Western New York air.
Darnold led two long final-frame drives to touchdowns, the first coming on his ridiculous scramble and running dart to Robby Anderson to make it 20-20. Then after a Bills field goal, he led the visitors back down the field with a 37-yard drop-in-the-bucket to Anderson to the 5, then handing off to Elijah McGuire on fourth-and-goal from the 1 for the go-ahead score. CB Trumaine Johnson sealed the comeback with his second interception of the game.
Thus the Jets ended their six-game losing streak to rise to 4-9 on the season while dropping Buffalo to 4-9. They also atoned for last month's 41-10 blowout loss to the Bills at MetLife Stadium. They did it by roaring from behind instead of falling from ahead as they did in last week's 26-22 loss at Tennessee.
Here are eight chronological takeaways from the largest come-from-behind victory ever at Buffalo (overcoming first-half deficits of 14-3 and 17-6) in the Jets' 59-year history of this rivalry:
1. Not a Good Start
Allen was as advertised on the Bills' opening drive of the game, getting loose off an all-out blitz for 41 yards and crowning the drive with a 6 -yard keeper for the TD and a 7-0 lead just 5:48 into the proceedings. Then the Jets opened with a 3-and-out, although Darnold did a fair Allen impression with a 9-yard keeper off a broken play on third down. But at the end of the play Darnold limped off the field and into the locker room (missing only the Jets' second series). All in all not the way the Green & White wanted to open this one.
2. Interesting Takeaway
The Jets created their second takeaway in two games (after going five games without a TA) when LB Kevin Pierre-Louis drove the ball out of Allen's hands on a strip sack and who else but S Jamal Adams recovered and returned to the BUF-32. Three plays later, Mr. Automatic Jason Myers came on for a 47-yard field goal to trim the early deficit to 7-3.
3. Right Back at You
But it wasn't nearly enough to prevent the home team from opening a 14-3 lead on another 70-yards-plus drive, this one fashioned on two big plays — a 33-yard pass interference penalty against CB Buster Skrine and a 15-yard end-around by WR Isaiah McKenzie for the second TD in three series.
4. Rocket Roberts
Then it was time for Andre Roberts to turn on the jets as Roberts reeled off 51- and 86-yard kickoff returns. The first set up Myers' second FG, from 21 yards. The second got the Jets in position for rookie RB Trenton Cannon's first pro TD run, from 4 yards out, to trim the Jets' deficit to 17-13 with 6:31 left in the first half.
5. Crazy First-Half Finish
The Bills were set up for a Stephen Hauschka 49-yard field goal for a 20-13 lead going in at halftime. Instead, Henry "Goose" Anderson got his second blocked kick in the last two games and the Jets' first blocked FG since 2012. Despite the hosts holding solid advantages in yardage, first downs and possession, the Jets trailed by only four and were still in this one with 30 minutes to play.
6. The Gift of Giving
Roberts, after his first-half dynamics, had trouble with a Hauschka squib kick to start the second half, didn't tuck it away and lost a fumble at the Jets 13. The Green & White red zone defense, which has been good, held on three plays and this time Hauschka put his field goal try through, from 29 yards out, and Buffalo opened a 20-13 margin. On the Jets' next drive, Darnold guided the offense 32 yards to the Bills 33 on a five-minute march. But he rolled right, tried to find TE Chris Herndon downfield but instead found Buffalo rookie MLB Tremaine Edmunds. Opportunities lost.
7. Sam on the Run
But then an opportunity gained. Darnold led an 85-yard drive to his remarkable scramble and direction-reversing running 7-yard dart to WR Robby Anderson, who snatched the ball away from CB Tre'Davious White for the score. Suddenly the Jets had come all the way back from their 11-point first-half deficit to tie the score at 20 with 12:06 to play. The big opportunity was there in front of them to end their losing skid and repay the Bills for the Week 10 rout at MetLife Stadium. Could they complete the deal?
8. Ecstatic Endgame
For Darnold to fashion his first second-half comeback as a pro, he had to overcome that sluggish start to the second half when Roberts lost his fumble and he threw his INT. He did it by leading TD drives of 85 yards to Anderson's grab, then after Hauschka's third FG to make it 23-20, Bills, 61 yards to the off-tackle run by McGuire following the blocking of guard-turned-313-pound-fullback Dakota Dozier across the goal line for the go-ahead score. Two Allen passes, and Johnson's leaping second pick later, the Jets were back in the W column for the first time since beating Indianapolis back on Oct. 14 at MetLife Stadium