EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—Jilted by the Jets, Rex Ryan got even.
Thanks to his pride and joy (the defence), Ryan’s return to the Meadowlands was a successful one last night.
That defence shut down Ryan’s former team for much of the game, with the Bills scoring on offence and special teams in a 22-17 victory over New York.
Ryan was fired by the Jets after six seasons and immediately hired by Buffalo last January.
His defence had two interceptions, recovered a fumble, and stopped the Jets inside the Bills’ 10 in the final minutes—prompting some vigorous fist pumps Ryan repeated, along with a flying headset, when Bacarri Rambo clinched it with a last-minute pick.
“I can tell the truth, this thing is kind of like being dumped by some girl you have the hots for,” Ryan said to reporters at an overflowing news conference.
“Every guy in this room has been dumped by a girl,” he noted. “You move on, and every now and then, they call you back.
“And they can’t have you back.”
Ryan got his call-back as Duke Williams returned a fumbled kick-off 19 yards for the go-ahead points, rookie Karlos Williams had a 26-yard touchdown catch, and Dan Carpenter kicked three field goals.
Buffalo (5-4) moved into the wild-card playoff picture while the Jets (5-4) have lost three of their last four games.
“Our guys stood on their heads and held them out of the end zone,” said Ryan.
Buffalo’s offence made just enough key plays and held off a late surge by the Jets after Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for two touchdowns.
“Yes, it really is [frustrating],” said Darrelle Revis, who Ryan referred to after the game as one of the best cornerbacks in NFL history.
“There’s a bad taste in my mouth right now, just how it all went.”
The “Rexception” before the game was tame, with some boos, a few cheers, nothing over the top.
The loudest catcalls came when former Jets’ defensive end IK Enemkpali, chosen by Ryan as a team captain for the game, came out for the coin toss.
Enemkpali infamously broke Jets’ quarterback Geno Smith’s jaw with a punch during the pre-season, was cut, and claimed the next day by Buffalo.
Hardly a wallflower, Ryan, wearing a red vest, almost was lost on the sideline among his players in their garish scarlet uniforms. And the fans seemed to forget about him once the action began.
“I saw everyone waving ‘Happy Day,’” Ryan joked.