ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Matt Forte scored three touchdown runs and Ryan Fitzpatrick finally solved Rex Ryan’s defense, leading the New York Jets to a 37-31 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night.
Forte’s 3-yard run put New York ahead 27-24 with 2:12 left in the third quarter. He sealed the win by patiently waiting for a seam to open before scampering into the end zone from 12 yards to put New York up 37-24 with 4:02 left in the fourth quarter.
Forte finished with 100 yards rushing, and the offseason free-agent addition became the 13th New York player to score three rushing touchdowns in a game.
The Jets (1-1) bounced back from a season-opening loss to Cincinnati and snapped a five-game skid against their AFC East rivals.
Fitzpatrick finished 24 of 34 for 374 yards and a 5-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker.
In beating one of his former teams, Fitzpatrick also overcame the stinging memories of last year’s season finale, a 22-17 loss at Buffalo that eliminated the Jets from playoff contention. Fitzpatrick closed the loss by throwing interceptions on each of the Jets final three possessions.
“I think it means a little bit more than a regular game because this was my life for four years being here,” Fitzpatrick said about spending 2009-12 with the Bills. “But I’m more excited about our team and the way we responded in the second half.”
The Bills (0-2) are suddenly reeling in Ryan’s second season as coach , and two years after he has fired by the Jets.
“Obviously, we never expected this,” Ryan said. “The Jets were a much better team than we were today, especially their offense against our defense looked like a mismatch today. You look for a difference in the game and that was the difference in the game.”
The Bills’ offense sputtered in a 13-7 loss at Baltimore on Sunday, and now it was their defense that showed cracks against the Jets.
New York finished with 493 yards offense, 28 first downs and had seven drives cross midfield.
Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor rebounded five days after he was limited to 111 yards passing against the Ravens.
He went 18 of 30 for 298 yards and three touchdowns and an interception. Marquise Goodwin scored on an 84-yarder catch, Greg Salas scored on a 71-yard catch and running back Mike Gillislee made it close, by catching an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:17 remaining.
The Jets scored on each of their first four possessions to build a 20-7 lead.
The Bills responded by scoring on three straight possessions spanning halftime to go up 24-20. Safety Nickell Robey-Coleman capped the run by returning Jalin Marshall’s fumble 36 yards for a touchdown.
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis got off to another tough start. After having difficulty covering Bengals receiver A.J. Green on Sunday, Revis was burned by Goodwin on his 84-yard touchdown catch. Goodwin burst past Revis up the right sideline at midfield and had two steps on him when he caught Tyrod Taylor’s pass in stride at the Jets 35 and ran it in.
It was Buffalo’s longest touchdown pass at home in team history, and longest since Fitzpatrick hit Terrell Owens for a 98-yard touchdown strike at Tennessee on Nov. 15, 2009.
Adding in Salas’ 71-yard TD catch and Taylor became Buffalo’s fifth quarterback to throw two 70-plus yard touchdown passes in the same game, and first since J.P. Losman did it in 2006.
Forte’s final touchdown came after the Jets defense stopped the Bills twice for no gain at midfield, including run up the middle by LeSean McCoy on fourth-and-1. The Bills converted 3 of 10 third-down chances and were 1-for-2 on fourth down.
Jets receiver Brandon Marshall proved to be a quick healer. It appeared as if he sustained a serious injury when his left knee twisted beneath him while cornerback Stephon Gilmore brought him down by the facemask in the second quarter. Marshall immediately grabbed his knee and lay on the field for a few minutes before getting up on his own.
Marshall returned for the next series and made a 21-yard catch after having his knee examined. The catch helped set up Decker’s 5-yard touchdown catch that put the Jets up 20-7.
Jets: Coach Todd Bowles said Marshall had a slight sprain. WR Quincy Enunwa continued playing despite sore ribs. LB Erin Henderson did not return because of a foot injury. OG James Carpenter injured a calf.
Bills: Goodwin left the game late and was being for a potential concussion.
THEY SAID IT:
Fitzpatrick on Marshall returning to field: “I thought he was down for the count, for sure.”
Bills LB Jerry Hughes: “We just didn’t play good football today. Just bad ball all around. … We just didn’t show up today.”
RETIRING NO. 78
The Bills honored NFL career sacks leader and Hall of Famer Bruce Smith by retiring his No. 78 during a halftime ceremony.
“I don’t know if I’m worthy or lucky enough for all this,” Smith told reporters before the game. He joins Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, whose No. 12, is the only number the Bills have retired.