ORCHARD PARK — Sam Darnold returned and he returned the Jets to the win column.
The Jets pulled off a dramatic comeback to snap their six-game losing streak and beat the Bills 27-23 at New Era Field on Sunday.
The game-winning touchdown came on a dramatic fourth-and-goal from the 1 call by beleaguered coach Todd Bowles. The Jets put extra blockers on the field and handed it to Elijah McGuire on a stretch run into the end zone to give the Jets their first lead of the day.
It was set up by a beautiful throw by Darnold, who had missed the past three games, and catch by Robby Anderson. Darnold hit Anderson down the Jets’ sideline for a 37-yard gain that put the ball on the Bills 5. It was a pretty, pinpoint throw by Darnold and a great catch by Anderson, who beat Tre’Davious White on the play, showing great concentration to make the catch along the sideline.
Darnold ran the ball to the 1-yard line on third down, fumbling it, but Jets tackle Brandon Shell recovered. That set up the dramatic fourth-and-1.
Darnold had a strong showing in his return. He went 16-of-24 for 170 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
The victory ends the Jets’ longest losing streak since 2014 and improves their record to 4-9 with three games left in the season. Some fans will view this win as a negative since it hurts their draft status, but the Jets players and coaches will breathe a sigh of relief after finally getting a win.
Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen did some damage running the ball, but he had two big interceptions, including one to seal the game. Trumaine Johnson had both interceptions. Allen finished 18-of-36 for 206 yards with the two interceptions. He ran for 101 yards, but only 14 in the second half.
The Bills took the lead with 2:31 left in the game on a 36-yard field goal from Stephen Hauschka. It was a 62-yard drive by the Bills, who got the ball at the 20 after a short punt by Lachlan Edwards. The big play of the drive was a 38-yard back-shoulder pass from Allen to Robert Foster, who was covered by backup cornerback Rashard Robinson.
Darnold tied the game at 20-20 with 12:17 left in the game. He made one of his best plays of the season to find Anderson for the 7-yard touchdown. Darnold rolled to his right with Kyle Williams diving at his feet. He then reversed field, coming all the way back across. He saw Anderson in the back of the end zone and placed the ball perfectly in front of a diving White.
The Jets looked like they might get blown out early. The Bills marched 73 yards on 11 plays on the first drive of the game. Allen rushed for 48 yards on the drive, including a 31-yarder and capped the drive off with a 6-yard touchdown run.
The Jets went three-and-out on their first drive, but the bigger news was Darnold exiting the game with a foot injury. Darnold went to the locker room, but only missed one series, returning later in the quarter.
Allen’s running cost the Bills on their second drive of the game when Jets linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis forced a fumble that Jamal Adams recovered, giving the Jets the ball at the Bills 32. The Jets were unable to move the ball with Josh McCown at quarterback, settling for a 47-yard field goal by Jason Myers.
The Bills put together another huge drive to extend their lead to 14-3 late in the first. The Jets helped put the Bills in scoring position with a 33-yard pass interference penalty by Buster Skrine. That gave Buffalo the ball on the Jets 15. Isaiah McKenzie scored from there on an end around.
Kick returner Andre Roberts set the Jets up with a 51-yard kickoff return and then Darnold reentered the game. The Jets made it to the Bills 3, but had to settled for another Myers field goal, this one from 21 yards to make the Bills’ lead 14-6.
The Bills responded with a field goal of their own, a 31-yarder by Hauschka to push their lead to 17-6.
The Jets finally reached the end zone on their next drive. Roberts again set the Jets up with a 86-yard kick return to the Bills 8. Rookie running back Trenton Cannon scored his first career touchdown two plays later from the 4-yard line. The touchdown was the Jets’ first in 25 drives and gave them new life, cutting the lead to 17-13.
The Jets ended the half by blocking a Hauschka field-goal attempt. Henry Anderson blocked it, his second blocked kick in two weeks.
After having a big first half, Roberts committed a blunder to open the second half. He fumbled the opening kickoff and the Bills recovered. The Jets defense held them to a field goal, though. Hauschka made it from 29 and Buffalo led 20-13.
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