What we learned: Bills hold off Jets in Rex's return

*EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In Rex Ryan's dramatic return to MetLife Stadium, his Buffalo Bills won ugly, 22-17, over the Jets. Something tells us Ryan wouldn't have it any other way. *

Here's what we learned...

  1. Egregious uniform violations aside, this game was still quite ugly. Thursday nighters are never truly beautiful, but in a rain-soaked matchup between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tyrod Taylor, we were treated to a contest marred with drops and fumbles and generally bad offensive playcalling. This goes without really digging into the fact that the game hinged on a perfect snap that flew through the hands of Bills punter Colton Schmidt deep in his own territory. These are the types of games that Rex Ryan's teams are built to win, though.
  1. We didn't hear much from Sammy Watkins after Tyrod Taylor underthrew him on the first play of the game. Matching up with Darrelle Revis will do that to you. But in a tight spot on a crucial third down, Watkins manhandled Revis, made a precision cut and got his feet in bounds to essentially win the game. Throughout his first two seasons, the gargantuan numbers might be missing, but Watkins is doing so many of the little things -- blocking, running crisp routes, working on his press coverage techniques -- that are helping this team win.
  1. Chan Gailey has been a godsend for this offense in 2015, but Thursday night was not his finest hour. The play call leading up to the fourth-down attempt with under three minutes to play and the actual fourth-down play call were head scratching to say the least. Depending on the Bills to essentially fall victim to the same pick/misdirection route for the third time in two quarters was a risky proposition. Gailey hit on one of three massive fourth-down conversions Thursday.
  1. Rex Ryan won despite not having any timeouts or challenges for the final 10 minutes of the game. There are other head coaches in the NFL who will specifically hire assistants to aid in game strategy; coaches who will pour over fourth-down conversion rates, down and distance scenarios and replay accuracy rates. This would benefit Ryan tremendously, but is he too proud to go the Ernie Adams route?

-- Conor Orr

  1. The Bills' running game ultimately was better than the Jets' strong rush defense. While Buffalo had four straight three-and-outs in the second half, that was mostly about a rough night from Tyrod Taylor. LeSean McCoy looked extremely explosive with 112 yards on 19 carries. That included 31 yards on Buffalo's last drive as the Bills ran clock and forced the Jets to burn timeouts. Buffalo rushed for 148 yards, the most the Jets have given up all year.
  1. Chris Ivory looked explosive again, piling up 135 yards from scrimmage. But the Jets' star receivers, Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall, hurt the team with crucial drops. Fitzpatrick threw a few beauties during the team's second half comeback, but ultimately this was one of his worst outings of the year. He had a ton of misfires in a 15-for-34 performance. After the game, Ryan said Fitzpatrick would undergo surgery to on his thumb Friday, but he's not expected to miss a game.

-- Gregg Rosenthal

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