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Jets' defense crushes Tyrod Taylor, Bills in assured win

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  • By Jeremy Bergman NFL.com
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The Buffalo Bills (5-3) fell back to Earth after a surprising start, falling hard to the New York Jets (4-5), 34-21, on Thursday Night Football in Week 9. Here's what we learned:

1. The previously absent Jets pass rush showed up in a major way against Buffalo and set the tone in this Color Rush blowout. New York's front seven was in Taylor's face all evening, collapsing the pocket on every other play en route to a seven-sack outing, nearly matching their season total (11) in the onslaught. Ridiculed in the press for its poor sack numbers, the Jets defensive line, led by media punching-bag Muhammad Wilkerson, tallied thrice as many sacks as it had all year (3). Even the young linebackers, long exploited, came to play -- Jordan Jenkins had a career game with two sacks and a forced fumble, while Darron Lee recorded a sack and three tackles for loss. With Taylor dropping back more than usual, the Jets forced the escape artist to play inside the pocket and according to their rules.

2. Taylor put up season-high numbers (285 passing yards, 34 rushing), but couldn't lead an imbalanced Bills offense to victory, partly because LeSean McCoy didn't look like himself. Maybe it was due to a groin issue that briefly sidelined him in the first half. Or perhaps McCoy couldn't find the edge against the Jets' swarming D-line. But one week after his best outing of the year, the Jet killer was far from lethal, averaging just 2.1 yards per carry on 12 attempts, and was essentially pulled in the second half. The residual effect on the rest of the offense was clear.

"Adversity hit us. We didn't respond well, particularly myself. I didn't play well at all," McCoy admitted to reporters after the game. "I took it as a challenge. Normally guys come in here and try to stop me, and I didn't respond well at all."

Buffalo finished with an unhealthy 2:1 pass-run ratio. Without McCoy churning and Charles Clay (injured) running up the middle, the Bills had to rely on Taylor and their wideouts, which is not a position they are well suited to be in -- at least until Kelvin Benjamin gets in the lineup.

3. One week after calling out his offensive coordinator's play-calling, Matt Forte had his most productive game of the season. Gang Green rode Forte's season-high 77 rushing yards and two scores, and Bilal Powell's hard-earned 74, torching Buffalo's top-five rushing defense for 194 yards. New York exploited Buffalo's uncharacteristically poor tackling at the second level and ground down the Bills in the trenches from start to finish. It was a pleasant surprise for a Jets offense that had failed to eclipse the century mark on the ground since Week 3. (Fun fact: In two career Color Rush games, Forte has five touchdowns. #ColorRush4Ever.) 

4. Josh McCown: Deep Ball Specialist. His 25-yard hook-up with breakout wide receiver Robby Anderson for a second-half score confirmed this notion. On a second-and-15, McCown audibled into a go route to the second-year streaker, who beat rookie corner Tre'Davious White out of the gate and reeled in McCown's bomb into his chest with one hand. Unlike in past seasons, the Jets, now under first-year offensive coordinator John Morton, trust their quarterback to take shots down the sideline; McCown has thrown seven touchdowns of 20 yards or more. Through nine games, McCown has already matched his career high in touchdown passes with 13 (not to mention, he's a threat on the ground too with three rush TDs). When he's not throwing game-wrecking interceptions, the 38-year-old journeyman is a special spark plug under center and one of this year's great underdog stories.

5. The Bills finally got a taste of their own medicine. Buffalo entered this AFC East clash with a league-best plus-14 turnover differential but had three giveaways on Thursday night, including two in scoring position. The Bills lost the turnover battle (3-0) for the first time all season and lost the war.

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