BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – This week Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White said he thought they were still searching for their identity on defense.
Before the season started it looked like they were going to finish as a top three defense for the third year in a row based on the number of players they had back plus the veteran talent they added in the offseason.
But they haven’t been playing the way we’re used to seeing. That’s why this 18-10 win over the Jets was a chance to hit the reset button and set the tone for the rest of the season.
“I think it was huge. I think it was big for our confidence,” Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes said.
The Bills defense dominated in this game especially in the second half.
“We had a huge play right before the half that kind of gave us some momentum going into halftime and a couple runs here and there that they were able to get in the first half but we were able to settle down especially in the second half and get in a rhythm and get off the field on third down so we want to continue to build off of that,” Bills safety Jordan Poyer said.
That play right before halftime was a Dane Jackson interception.
“At halftime we talked about getting off the field on third down. We knew they were going to continue to attack us in the run game so up front we said we’ve gotta stop the run. And then we knew our secondary was going to come down on the third down so for us it was just figuring out a way to stop that run and we were able to do that and get off the field on third down. I think they were two for eight so it was a good day for us,” Hughes explained.
The Bills struggled to stop the run in the first half as the Jets had some big runs and rushed for 82 yards in the first including a La’Mical Perine five-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
But the defense shut it down in the second half only allowing four yards of offense.
“The second half kind of gives you a picture of how we want to be on defense. That first half we had to settle down, they had a little success but you gotta come ready to play every week no matter who you’re playing,” Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds said.
“They had a couple good drives going and we just had to regroup, talk as a defense to get things corrected. It’s just a true testament to the guys on this team, a lot of guys got after it today and it showed.”
After the loss to the Chiefs on Monday, Jerry Hughes said he personally needed to do a better job of getting to the quarterback. Not just Hughes but the defense as a whole has struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks. But in this on the Bills dialed up the pressure and had six sacks and Hughes had two.
“We were coming strong, we were coming weak, we were tying to disguise it as best we can to not give them the tell of where we were coming from. We left a couple free runners to be able to get in Sam’s face and huge plays down the stretch and Jerry got a pick. That’s who we are, that’s who we want to be so it will be good to build off this,” Poyer explained.
“In the second half we came out with a new objective, new goal, we weren’t going to allow them any more points and we were gonna try to do our best to get off the field and when you challenge us like that we answer that call. So I was really happy to see us on the defensive side of the ball figuring out ways to get off the field on third down and going out there and just playing fast,” Hughes explained.
The Bills also had two interceptions in this game. I mentioned rookie Dane Jackson had one right before halftime then Hughes came down with another after Quinton Jefferson batted Sam Darnold’s pass to seal the win.
“We had a lot of guys out there playing for the first time. Dane [Jackson] came up big with an interception, you saw Dean Marlowe and Jordan Poyer flying around to the football, making plays. We were able to bring that energy on the road and be those road warriors and I think that was huge for us just to get out of that slump of the 0-2,” Hughes said.
Coming into this game the Bills only had two picks all season, one from Matt Milano and the other from Levi Wallace. It’s also encouraging for the Bills to see a guy like Jackson making plays in his first NFL start considering they’re dealing with a couple injuries at cornerback.
“You know we lost two games back-to-back coming off of a short week so it was good to see guys answer that call and still play with speed and that tenacity. They understand just by the history of the Buffalo Bills, where our defense has been ranked so it’s good to see guys come alive and bring that energy,” Hughes said.