NEW YORK — Ryan Fitzpatrick and the New York Jets put a rough start to the season behind them with a big rebound victory.
Being 1-1 sure looks a lot better than 0-2, especially considering the uphill climb to playoff contention they’d face just two games in. After a 37-31 win at Buffalo on Thursday night, the Jets get a few days off before hitting the field again.
“It’s only the second game, and we’re still getting better,” coach Todd Bowles said Friday. “We have to get better at a lot of things, offensively as well as defensively and special teams. We’re just going to work. Our biggest thing is we need to find different ways to win ballgames.
“We’re not going to win every game scoring 37 points.”
The Jets let their season opener slip away, falling to Cincinnati 23-22 last Sunday. While Bowles tried to stay even-keeled up to the game against Rex Ryan’s Bills, the players knew how important this one was.
Since the NFL began its current playoff format in 1990, only 26 teams have made it to the postseason after losing at least their first two games.
“It’s a big game coming off a close game last week,” Matt Forte said after rushing for 100 yards and three touchdowns. “To come back and get a win out here, hostile environment and division game, is huge. It’s must win at all times.”
Against Buffalo, the Jets rolled up 493 yards of total offense and 28 first downs, both team highs under coordinator Chan Gailey, and the fifth-best total for the franchise since 1970.
Fitzpatrick threw for 370 yards, and Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker both had more than 100 yards receiving each, while Quincy Enunwa fell 8 yards shy of joining them.
“To respond like we did (Thursday), that’s one of those things that you try to build off of as a unit,” Fitzpatrick said after the game. “That kind of stuff gives you confidence going forward as well.”
While there were good moments, the Jets know they’ve got some things to fix, particularly in the secondary. Darrelle Revis gave up a big play for a touchdown for the second straight game, when Marquise Goodwin got in front of him for an 84-yard score in the first quarter.
Early in the third quarter, Greg Salas was left wide open — “a bust in the coverage,” Bowles said — and scored on a 71-yard pass play from Tyrod Taylor that shifted the momentum to the Bills, who also returned a fumble for a TD less than three minutes later.
“It’s one guy here or there, but we have to clean that up,” Bowles said of the secondary. “The communication has to be cleaner. This is Day 1 training camp stuff that we shouldn’t be busting, and we have to make sure we correct that.”
There has also been increasing concern about Revis, the longtime shutdown cornerback who has struggled mightily to start this season.
Cincinnati’s A.J. Green had a monster performance last Sunday with Revis on him most of the game, finishing with 12 catches for 180 yards — including a 54-yard TD during which he blew past the Jets star.
“He gave up two plays and he knows he doesn’t want to give them up, and we know we don’t want him to give them up,” Bowles said. “We have to correct it and move on, and he’ll be better and we’ll move on from there.”
The Jets’ schedule has some pretty potent passing offenses up next with Kansas City, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Arizona, all of whom might try to challenge Revis.
“It’s a copy-cat league,” Bowles said. “Any time somebody sees somebody have success with something, they’re going to do it until you put the fire out.”
Bowles also took blame for kicking the extra point and not going for a 2-point conversion on the last of Forte’s TD runs, which put New York up 37-24 instead of 38-24.
Buffalo went down the field and made it a six-point game on Mike Gillislee’s 18-yard catch with 1:17 left. Then the Jets had to sweat out an onside kick recovered by Marshall to seal the victory for New York.
“I should have,” Bowles said of going for the conversion. “I was occupied doing something with the defense and when I turned around and looked at it, that was my bust and I’ll get better going forward.”
In the end, though, Bowles was encouraged by the Jets’ resolve.
“The one thing we learned from the first game that we didn’t do is we didn’t fight and overcome some things at the end,” he said. “Early on in the season, we made some mistakes and everybody is going to make their mistakes until they get a grab and hold on what kind of team they want to be.
“So for us to fight in enemy territory playing a division rival was good for us to see.”