The New York Jets(6=3) showed the AFC East and the NFL that they can compete with the top teams as they defeated the Buffalo Bills(6-2) 20-17 Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Many are shocked by this win for the Jets, but according to head coach Robert Saleh, he’s not surprised.
“Last week, we felt like we gave one away,” Saleh said after the win. “We practiced well this week. Not that practice ever translates, but I feel like it does. Last week wasn’t demoralizing to anyone. It was like, ‘damn, we are pretty good’ when you’re feeling like you should win football games. There wasn’t a coach or a person in that locker room that didn’t think we were going to be able to get this one done.”
Jets DE Bryce Huff, who had a huge strip-sack of Josh Allen on the Bills’ final drive, says this is not the same old Jets.
“We’re not the same old Jets,” he said. “We’ve got a group of guys here that love to work. We show up to work every day with the same mindset, just get better and go 1-0 on Sunday.”
One of the biggest reasons the Jets got the win was their defense. New York’s defense held the Bills to a season-low 17 points; they held one of the best quarterbacks in football, Allen, without a touchdown pass for the first time this season, and they intercepted him twice. In addition, they sacked Allen five times in this one, and the Pro Bowler completed only 52%(18/34) of his passes.
Coming into this game, the Jets were in the top ten in total defense and sacks, and after two picks on Sunday, they are now second in interceptions. One of the things the players believe makes this defense go is their relationship off the field.
“We really love each other,” Jets corner D.J. Reed said. “We hang out outside of football; everybody’s close-knit, just close, it’s family. I think that’s all we’ve got to go play for each other that hard.”
DE Jermaine Johnson added on the defense: “We really forget the business side of the NFL. It feels like we’re on a high school team, like that’s the camaraderie we got, and we’re just close. Like we hang out outside the building, we have fun when we’re in the building; it’s not just business to us. So, there’s a real-life connection here, and we display it. It’s getting better every Sunday.”
With the Jets trailing 14-10 in the third quarter, New York’s rookie corner Sauce Gardner intercepted Allen, which set up the Jets’ final touchdown and gave the team a lead late in the third. Gardner discussed what he saw on that interception.
“We were in a cover-two concept, to my side,” he said. “The receiver got outside of me, and they had a running back there sat in front of me. It was a running back or receiver; I don’t know. I just, I felt like I had a feel for Josh Allen and the throws he likes to make. So, I was just taking away the throws to the running back; I tried to time it up to make the play.”
Defense wins championships, but that’s not to say the Jets are a championship-caliber team; however, it says because of its defense, New York will be able to compete with some of the better teams in football, and they showed that on Sunday.