Four plays that decided the Buffalo Bills’ Sunday fate vs. the NY Jets

It wasn’t pretty, but the Buffalo Bills got back in the win column with a win over their divisional rivals in East Rutherford.

The Buffalo Bills’ latest Sunday endeavor was all about the Bass.

Rookie kicker Tyler Bass booted a team-record six field goals on eight attempts, while their defense allowed only four yards in the second half. The offensive performance left a touchdown to be desired, but the Bills (5-2) were able to earn an 18-10 decision over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Buffalo got back to the win column after consecutive losses. They trailed 10-6 at the halftime break, but shutout the Jets in the latter portion while Bass booted his triples.

“I think for us, figuring out how they were going to attack us, really helped us out,” defender Jerry Hughes said of the halftime shift, per Matt Bove of WBKW-TV. “Working with our coaching staff, everything really just fell perfectly into place in the second half.”

ESM looks back on four big plays, one from each quarter, that shaped Buffalo’s present or future…for better or worse.

1st Quarter: Double Order of Buffalo Swing

Early in the game, the Bills appeared to be channeling the late, great, fictional Admiral Gial Ackbar by silently declaring “It’s a trap…game!”.

Somewhat rejuvenated by the return of franchise quarterback Sam Darnold, the Bills allowed the Jets to infiltrate the red zone, as the green New Jerseyans were 17 yards away from the end zone on their opening drive. It was a process, but the Jets’ early momentum took a massive hit on one play involving two key defenders.

A shared seven-yard sack from AJ Epensa and Trent Murphy stopped the Jets’ aspirations for a red zone touchdown before they ever truly began. Still getting his rhythm back, Darnold could only muster an eight-yard pass to Breshad Perriman and a failed attempt to Denzel Mims, unable to take advantage of five free yards afforded back to them on a Buffalo offsides penalty. The Jets left that drive with a field goal, missing out on a chance to score a touchdown and truly establish early momentum.

2nd Quarter: Diggs with the Bigs

Diggs failed to recapture his early momentum, held to under 50 yards receiving for the second straight game. But the receptions he did make on Sunday…nabbing six for 48 yards…proved that his sense of clutch play was one of the many reasons the Bills traded for the former Minnesota playoff hero.

With the Jets having done the unthinkable in not only scoring a touchdown but also building a two-possession lead at 10-0, the Bills were facing a seven-yard third down at their own 38, sending the Jets’ invisible crowd into a frenzy. Covered by Pierre Desir, who was later called for an illegal contact penalty, Diggs took a short pass from Josh Allen and was able to produce nine yards en route to a vital first down. The penalty was declined, and the Bills would later enjoy the first of Bass’ six field goals on the afternoon.

Diggs would later come up big in the trek to another Bass finisher, earning a 12-yard gain in the third quarter that shrank the Jets’ lead to 10-9.

3rd Quarter: Tyler’s Burden

By the end of Sunday’s affair, Bass had missed nearly as many kicks in his rookie campaign as former specialist staple Steven Hauschka had in each of the last two seasons (having posted matching postings of 22-of-28 in 2018-19). Some even felt that Bass’ job could’ve been on the line prior to Sunday’s proceedings, but it’ll be hard to do that when he just tied a team record also held by 1990s hero Steve Christie.

Bass did miss two more field goals on the afternoon, but he managed to permanently give Buffalo the lead with a 37-yard boot after he failed to tighten things up at the end of the half.

Bass later remarked that it was the words of head coach Sean McDermott that kept his hopes up during a very trying process.

“Coach always talks about character,” Bass said, per Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News. “It’s really not about how many you make. It’s about what you do after a miss, after something goes wrong. Anyone can handle stuff when things are easy. It’s just about when something goes wrong, how do you handle that? You don’t let it define you. You just trust everything you’ve done in practice that week.”

4th Quarter: Coming Up Hughes

The Bills saw several players come up big in Sunday’s victory. On offense, Cole Beasly earned new career-bests (11 receptions, 112 yards) while Tyler Kroft (6 receptions, 84 yards) stood up for a depleted tight end group. Defensively, however, the usual suspects rose to the occasion, particularly on the final drive of the game.

Despite sheer domination in the second half, the Jets’ offense still had a chance to send the game into overtime by getting the ball back with a mere eight-point deficit. But the defense shut down any hope of a comeback through a vital effort from Hughes.

Still seeking the proper respect one of the most consistent names in the league should garner, Hughes opened the drive by swarming the backfield and sacking Darnold. A dangerous hit from Micah Hyde on Breshad Perriman gave the Jets 15 free yards, but more Hughes pressure forced Darnold into a desperate interception, one that commenced the Buffalo celebration. The interception was made possible by a deflection from Quinton Jefferson.

“What are the odds that you have a ball floating around in the D-line territory?” Hughes said with a smile of his big moment, per Jason Wolf of The Buffalo News. “So why not grab it, run around with it, try to score? Let’s have some fun. But certainly, got to get down so we can end that game.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags