The Jets closed out their 2019 campaign with a 13-6 win over the Buffalo Bills on a rain-soaked Sunday afternoon in Western New York. The victory was the team's first divisional road triumph of the year and it completed an impressive turnaround for the Green & White.
"It means a lot," said RB Le'Veon Bell. "We started the season 1-7 and we finished the season 6-2, so we were definitely on the rise when we should've been. We've been playing good football. I'm glad we got the win against a divisional opponent too. It's something to build on."
Since the start of 16-game schedules in 1978 (not including the strike-shortened 1982 campaign), 111 teams had started 1-7 or worse and only six teams finished 7-9 or better (5.4%). The Jets endured plenty of adversity during their 1-7 start in 2019, but they rebounded with a 6-2 finish, going 3-1 in successive quarters. It marked the Jets' best second half since 2006.
"It feels good," said S Jamal Adams. "It's obviously something we wanted to do. Obviously the main goal is to get to the playoffs and that didn't happen, so this game right here was the start of next season."
See Best Images from the Matchup in Buffalo
The Jets' No. 7-ranked defense played the majority of the game against the Bills' backups and the defense dominated for long stretches.
The Jets allowed 62 yards in the first half and held Buffalo to 3 of 12 on third down (25%) over all. In the second quarter, inside linebacker James Burgess recorded his first career interception, looking like the intended target on a Matt Barkley pass intended for Robert Foster. Gregg Williams made Barkley uncomfortable by sending Maurice Canady on a corner blitz. Tarell Basham deserved better as his strip-sack of Barkley and a subsequent Quinnen Williams recovery was overturned by replay officials who ruled Barkley's arm was moving forward.
Basham got a measure of revenge in the third quarter, recovering Jordan Jenkins' strip-sack. Jenkins finished his fourth professional campaign with a career-high and team-leading 8 sacks. Cornerback Arthur Maulet's first career interception set up Sam Ficken's 47-yarder, making it a 10-point advantage with 2:05 remaining. The Jets celebrated their first road game holding an opponent with a touchdown since Game 14 of the 2014 season and the first at Buffalo since a season-opening 23-3 win in 1994.
"Everyone's just fighting," Burgess said. "We have a team on defense, a strong bond. We're always hanging out at the facility, outside the facility. We just have a strong bond, everyone plays for each other."
Jamison Crowder finished an outstanding first season with the Jets in fine fashion, hauling in 8 passes for 66 yards. His 1-yard score in the final quarter was the game-winner, ending a 46-plus minute TD drought for both clubs to open the contest. The fifth-year veteran, who inked a deal with the Green & White in March, was Sam Darnold's favorite receiver in 2019 while finishing with a career-high 78 catches for 833 yards. Crowder, who had a career-high 14 receptions against the Bills in Week 1 and was one of five Jets to play in all 16 games, finished with a team-high six scores. Darnold, who missed Games 2-4 with mono, had 198 yards through the air and reached the 3,000-yard mark for the first time.