Defense leads Bills to 37-14 win over Jets

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — For Bills safety Jairus Byrd, there was nothing like the sight of watching Jets backup quarterback Matt Simms trot out on the field early in the fourth quarter Sunday.

To Byrd, that was a signal that he and Buffalo’s defense had done its job in thoroughly rattling rookie starter Geno Smith.

“It sits great with us,” Byrd said. “Any time you can do that, it means we’re being relentless out there.”

That was the case from start to finish as the Bills defense and blustery winds gusting up to 30 mph proved too much for Smith and the Jets to handle in Buffalo’s dominating 37-14 victory.

Byrd had two interceptions. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams had two sacks and forced a fumble. And, safety Da’Norris Searcy returned another Smith interception 32 yards for a touchdown as Buffalo turned four turnovers by the quarterback into 17 points.

The Bills got after Smith from the Jets’ opening possession. That’s when defensive tackle Marcell Dareus briefly knocked the quarterback out of the game by hitting him in the mid-section.

“First play of the game, I knew that we had him,” Dareus said. “We got a big lick on him, and he kind of rolled around. We knew right then we were in his head. From then on, he looked crazy, looked scattered.”

The Bills (4-7) snapped a three-game skid and enter their bye week by winning for only the second time in seven games.

The Jets (5-5), coming off their bye, continued their string of inconsistent outings by becoming the NFL’s first team to alternate wins and losses through the first 10 games of the season.

Smith, a second-round pick out of West Virginia, went 8 of 23 for 103 yards passing, and was blunt in assessing his outing.

“The way I can sum up this game is awful,” Smith said. “I couldn’t hit anything today. I just wasn’t hitting the mark.”

Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, selected 16th overall out of Florida State, was far better. He finished 20 of 28 for 245 yards passing and two scores. And he did so with Buffalo playing minus both starting receivers: Stevie Johnson (groin) and Robert Woods (sprained left ankle).

Smith has now gone a combined 36 of 72 for 377 yards passing, with no touchdowns and five interceptions in his past three games. And he’s particularly struggled on the road, where he dropped to 1-4 and thrown four touchdown passes and nine interceptions. Overall, he has eight touchdowns, 16 interceptions and has lost four fumbles.

Coach Rex Ryan attempted to deflect criticism directed at his quarterback by noting Smith had little protection.

“With that protection, you could’ve had Joe Namath back there and I don’t think it would’ve mattered today,” Ryan said. “Obviously, when you turn the ball over four times, that’s a poor performance.”

It was so bad that the Jets managed just 267 yards offense and a season-low 12 first downs. Under Smith, the Jets produced 4 yards offense, no first downs and committed two turnovers on 13 plays over the final five possessions of the first half.

Jets’ running back Chris Ivory scored on a 1-yard plunge on fourth down. Simms marched the Jets on a six-play, 62-yard drive, capped by a 13-yard pass to Jeff Cumberland with 9:36 left.

The Bills took control in the final minutes of the first half.

Starting with Manuel’s 34-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Graham with 4:05 left, Buffalo scored 17 points over a span of 2:50 to build a 20-0 lead with 65 seconds left in the first half.

On the second play of the Jets’ next possession, Williams broke in around the right side and knocked the ball out of Smith’s hand. Manny Lawson recovered the fumble and, fullback Frank Summers scored on a 3-yard run two plays later.

Two plays into the Jets’ next possession, Smith forced a pass over the middle intended for Cumberland. Byrd intercepted that one, which set up Dan Carpenter’s 42-yard field goal.

“We were obviously getting to him, making him hear footsteps,” Bills defensive end Mario Williams said, referring to Smith.

NOTES: The conditions were so tough that a tear-away portion of the football-field sized American flag came undone during the national anthem. … Jets PK Nick Folk missed his first field-goal attempt of the season after a 48-yarder sailed wide right. Folk’s streak ended at 23 straight, one short of matching the franchise record set by Jay Feely from 2008-09. … Among those in attendance was New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who played a big role last year in negotiating the Bills’ 10-year lease agreement to stay at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

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