EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- So what do the oddsmakers know, anyway? The Bills played like a team that was insulted to be an underdog against a 1-6 foe, getting six takeaways from the defense and four touchdown passes from Kyle Orton in a convincing 43-23 victory Sunday over the Jets at MetLife Stadium.
The win, the first in six trips to MetLife against the Jets and Giants, lifts the Bills to 5-3 at the season's midpoint and sends them into the bye on a high note, still one game behind the Patriots in the AFC East. The 43 points were the most the Bills have scored since a 49-31 win at Cincinnati in 2010.
Here are five quick observations from the Bills' big win:
1. I've always said a playoff contender needs a quarterback who can lift it through tough times, especially on the road. Kyle Orton provided such a lift Sunday, throwing for 238 yards and four TDs with no interceptions. It's was Orton's second four-TD game in his career (he did it with the Broncos in 2012), and he would have had five if Sammy Watkins hadn't celebrated prematurely on an 84-yard bomb early in the second quarter.
2. The Bills' defense rose up early, with a considerable boost from embattled Jets quarterback Geno Smith. Smith was 2-for-8 for 4 yards and three brutal interceptions before Rex Ryan mercifully replaced him with Michael Vick in the first quarter. The run defense was solid, aside from a few scrambles by Vick that pulled the Jets within a TD at halftime. The Bills never allowed Chris Ivory to establish an inside game, which prevented the Jets from sustaining drives. After letting Vick lead the Jets back within seven at halftime, the defense came out and was dominant in the third quarter. Their seven takeaways, five of them interceptions, came from seven different players.
3. Sammy Watkins is fast developing into a star. A week after posting a career high with 122 yards in receptions, Watkins broke it with 157 yards on three catches -- including a 61-yard TD and the 84-yarder that should have been an 89-yard TD. The Bills scored on Frank Summers's 2-yard TD run after Watkins's gaffe, so he could afford to laugh it off. But they should have made the rookie carry the bags to the team bus.
4. This just in: The Jets are a bad team. You don't get to 1-7 by accident. Why Smith was still starting is a mystery. Their secondary was as bad as advertised. The coaching was suspect. They had former Bill T.J. Graham lie on his stomach in the end zone on a trick kickoff return. Evidently, he was supposed to get up and catch a pass. Percy Harvin, their new acquisition, kept the ball and got tackled at his own 3-yard line. On their next offensive possession, the Jets had a holding call, a block in the back, and clipping.
5. The Bills coaches outcoached Rex Ryan and his staff. The Jets had two glaring weaknesses: Quarterback play and secondary. The Bills took full advantage of both. Yes, Smith was horrid. But the Bills had a sound game plan and were ready for everything the Jets threw at them on offense.
Nate Hackett, the offensive coordinator, was criticized for running too much against the Jets. Bu he had enough faith in Orton to call bombs to Watkins twice in three plays deep in his own end in the second quarter. The second one was a gorgeous strike down the middle of the field, which resulted in that 84-yard gain and premature celebration. Hey, maybe Sammy knew what was coming on a glorious day in the Meadowlands.