EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The sky was falling for the New York Jets against the Buffalo Bills.
They were losing a close game to their AFC East rivals in the second half - and an overhead video camera malfunctioned, disrupting a promising drive and appearing to be a poorly timed omen.
Then, the Jets pulled off a picture-perfect comeback.
“We’re too young to flinch,” coach Robert Saleh said after New York‘s stunning 20-17 victory Sunday.
The defense shut down Josh Allen, Zach Wilson threw a touchdown pass and Greg Zuerlein kicked a go-ahead 28-yard field goal with 1:43 remaining to send the Jets (6-3) into their bye-week break a half-game behind the division-leading Bills (6-2).
“I know a lot of people are going to be surprised, right?” Saleh said. “I don’t think there’s a person surprised in the locker room.”
With the game tied at 17, the Jets got the ball at their own 4 and 7:53 left - and they hit the ground running.
After marching downfield to the Bills 18 on eight straight running plays while draining the clock against a weary Buffalo defense, Wilson connected with Denzel Mims for 12 yards on third-and-5. But the drive stalled when Wilson was sacked by Damar Hamlin on third down and the Jets settled for Zuerlein’s field goal.
Allen got the ball back, but couldn’t manage much.
A holding call on Dion Dawkins wiped out a long pass to Stefon Diggs. Two plays later, Bryce Huff had a strip-sack of Allen that Buffalo recovered at its 14.
After an incompletion to Diggs, Allen launched a deep desperation pass to Gabe Davis - but rookie Sauce Gardner knocked the ball away and sealed the unlikely victory for the Jets. It also ended the Bills‘ four-game winning streak.
“We expected to win this game,” Wilson said.
Wilson finished 18 of 25 for 154 yards and a TD pass to James Robinson, who scored for the first time since being acquired last week from Jacksonville. Michael Carter had a 6-yard touchdown run.
But the defense did its job against Allen, intercepting him twice and sacking him five times. Allen was 18 of 34 for 205 yards - held without a TD pass for the first time since Week 17 of last season against Atlanta - and the INTs by Gardner and Jordan Whitehead.
Allen ran for 86 yards and two touchdowns, but the Bills fell to 0-2 against division opponents.
“It’s tough to win in this league when you’re playing a good team and your quarterback plays like (crap),” Allen said. “Made some bad decisions tonight. Really cost our team.”
Allen was seen flexing his right hand after the strip-sack.
“There’s some slight pain,” he said. “I’ll get through it.”
Things took a strange turn when Wilson and the Jets’ offense were marching downfield on their opening drive of the second half. A SkyCam camera whirled out of control and delayed the play on the field for 12 minutes until a camera operator was able to corral it.
“It only happens to the Jets,” a smiling Saleh said.
Added Wilson: “I’ve never seen that before.”
The teams resumed play, but the Jets were immediately called for a false start penalty. Three plays later, Wilson was sacked by Von Miller and his fumble recovered by A.J. Epenesa to give Buffalo the ball.
The sack gave Miller 122 1/2 for his career, surpassing Simeon Rice (122) for 20th place on the NFL’s list.
But then New York‘s defense stiffened, with Quinnen Williams sacking Allen and Gardner coming up with an interception to give the Jets the ball at the Bills 19. Wilson’s 7-yard pass to Robinson put the Jets ahead 17-14 with 4:03 left in the third quarter.
Tyler Bass’ 51-yard field goal tied it for Buffalo with 13:33 remaining.
“We had opportunities overall and we shot ourselves in the foot,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “Give credit where credit is due. They made more plays than we did. In some ways, we beat ourselves.”
After Allen was intercepted by Whitehead on the Bills‘ third play from scrimmage, Buffalo converted three third-down plays on its next drive, including an 11-yard run by Allen that was initially ruled a touchdown before video review showed he was short of the goal line. On the next play, the Bills quarterback pushed forward to give Buffalo a 7-0 lead.
Allen‘s second touchdown run came with 6:30 left in the first half on a 36-yard scamper - the longest TD run of his career.
Carter’s 6-yard run up the middle to cut New York‘s deficit to 14-10 late in the second quarter.
The Bills had a chance to add to their lead, but Bass’ 55-yard attempt was wide right as time expired in the half.
Bills: Edge rusher Greg Rousseau left in the first half with an ankle injury. … CB Kaiir Elam injured an ankle in the third quarter. … CB Tre’Davious White was activated from injured reserve this week and didn’t appear on Buffalo‘s injury report, but was inactive. … LB Matt Milano (oblique) sat out after being questionable.
Jets: DT Sheldon Rankins injured his left elbow in the first quarter and didn’t return.
Bills: Return home to take on the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday.
Jets: Head into their bye-week break before a rematch with the AFC East rival Patriots in New England on Nov. 20.
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