NFL Kickoff: Jets at Bills

After a long and eventful offseason football is back in Buffalo. The Buffalo Bills hosted the New York Jets at New Era Field for a week one matchup between the in-state, division rivals. The Jets and the Bills represent the bottom tier of teams from the AFC East a season ago as the Bills managed to go 7-9 while the Jets a less than stellar 5-11. A fresh season always inspires hope for the Buffalo Bills as they look to put an end to their 17-year playoff drought. One thing that is for certain, the winner of this matchup would at least momentarily have a share of first place in the division following the week one New England Patriots loss.

The 2017 season for the Bills would start with them in control of their own fate as the Jets deferred possession of the ball to the Bills. On their first drive of the season, the Buffalo offense under new head coach Sean McDermott showed potential and promise. The Bills compiled over 40-yards of rushing on their opening drive, highlighted by Mike Tolberts’ first carry as a Bill going for 16-yards. Tolbert would finish his Bills debut with over 50 all purpose yards and a touchdown. A big impact for an offense that has relied so heavily on the run the past two seasons. The cheers from the Buffalo fans would soon turn to dismay as Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor was picked off in the end zone off of the hands of tightened Charles Clay. Juston Burres, the defensive back on the play would return the pick 48-yards putting an end to the Bills first possession.

Following a three and out on their first possession, the Bills would be backed up from near their own end zone once more. The newest Bill, rookie Zay Jones made his presence known early, capitalizing with his chemistry with Taylor on a 21-yard reception for the first of his career. Jordan Matthews, the Bills other starting receiver acquired in the offseason from the Bills secured his first reception late in the first quarter for 14-yards on third down.

The Bills and their stifling defense caused problems for the Jets throughout the first quarter. The Bills outgained the Jets 123 to 6 in the first as they could not seem to get anything going as they only had possession for little over 4 minutes.

The second quarter would be a different story for the Bills offense. Marching down the field for over 75-yards the Bills would put their first score on the board. A 1-yard pass from Taylor to Clay would give the Bills their first score of the season and Clay’s fifth score in his last five games. The score was made possible thanks to a LeSean McCoy 23-yard run down the sideline and over 25-yards by Tolbert. The Bills new kicker, Steven Hauschka added the extra point making it 7-0.

As the Bills looked at some of their newest play makers for offense support the Jets would do the same. Acquired less than two weeks ago, Jets quarterback Josh McCown hooked up with former Seattle receiver Jermaine Kearse for over 20-yards through the air. The Jets would settle for a Chandler Catanzaro 48-yard field goal to put them on the board midway through the second.

Trading blows back and forth the Bills were able to exploit the Jets defense continually as it was big play galore for the Bills offense. On their following drive, the Bills picked up over 55-yards on two plays back to back. Taylor was able to connect with a wide open Clay in space for 35-yards into Jets territory before being pushed out of bounds. McCoy would follow that up with his own big play, a 20-yard run up the gut of the Jets defense. The offense moving down the field but not capitalizing was a story early on for the Bills as they had to settle for a 46-yard field goal attempt. The Hauschka kick was no good for his first attempt and miss of the season.

The Jets offensive woes would continue as they were only able to pick up 11-yards of rushing in the first half. Even with the lack of offensive support, the Jets were able to pull close with another Catanzaro field goal. With just under two minutes left in the first, a 52-yard field goal made it 7-6 heading into the half.

The offense for both sides would be hard to come by coming out of the half. Both teams seemed to have trouble making any adjustments at half offensively as both teams punted the ball away early in the third. With little over 8 minutes left in the third, the Bills offense came alive for their biggest play of the day, a 47-yard strike to Jordan Matthews who showed his big play ability on the run after the catch. Followed by a Taylor run the Bills were within striking distance once more from the 1-yard line. Connecting on his second one-yard passing touchdown of the day, this time to Andre Holmes. On the drive, Tyrod Taylor would become the Bills all-time leader in rushing yards by a quarterback. The Bills would add to their lead, 14-6.

Offense in the NFL tends to come in pairs and thats exactly what occur immediately following their score. Putting together their first sustained drive of the game the Jets marched down into Bills territory once more. An 11-play 75-yard drive saw the Jets score their first touchdown of the season. A 21-yard Will Tye reception and an ArDarius Stewart near touchdown set up the Jets score. On fourth down McCown snuck in behind his offensive line for a one-yard run. The Jets would fail to convert the 2-point conversion keeping the Bulls up top 14-12.

The scoring would only pick up as defense took a back seat in the final quarter. The Bills kicked off the fourth quarter by continuing to add to their lead. A 27-yard run by McCoy set up Nick O’Learly’s 22-yard reception that was stopped just yards short of the end zone. Making it a trio the Bills capped off the drive with their third one-yard score of the day, this time Mike Tolbert punched it in for six, his first as a Bill.

The Bills defense would step up when called upon. Picking off a pass midway through the fourth quarter, the first year Bill, Jordan Poyer helped insure a Bills victory by removing any thought of a Jets comeback. The top performer on the day was the Bills LeSean McCoy who picked up over 100-yards on the ground and added over 50 through the air, nearly out gaining the Jets entirely by himself.

The Bills would hang on to the victory 21-12, getting their first win of the season and moving to the top of the AFC East. The Bills will travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers in week two.

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