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Vic Carucci’s Rapid Reaction: So what if it was gift-wrapped? Bills enter bye at 5-3

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Let’s start with what really is all that is going to matter to the Buffalo Bills for the next couple of weeks while they catch up on some R&R: they’ve reached their midseason bye with a 5-3 record.

What Bills fan wouldn’t have signed up for that before the season?

Yes, they needed the New York Jets to have one of the all-time horrific performances to help them get there, but it doesn’t matter. The Bills aren’t going to apologize for today’s 43-23 victory at MetLife Stadium, nor should they.

They find themselves in position to have legitimate playoff thoughts when they return to action in two weeks with a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs. They also have an extra week to savor the fact they scored the most points since 2010, when they had 49 points against the Cincinnati Bengals.

And even though there were many times when it seemed the Bills didn’t want the gift-wrapped win the Jets were trying to give them almost from the game’s outside, the Bills finally capitalized on six Jet turnovers.

This was a strange game for many reasons, not the least of which was the Jets wound up playing two quarterbacks who combined for all of the turnovers. Starter Geno Smith threw three interceptions in the first half. His replacement, Michael Vick, had two fumbles and a second-half interception.

And, yet, the Bills only had a seven-point lead at halftime and this was still very much a game into the third quarter. You want a telling stat: Kyle Orton completed all of 10 passes, yet the Bills wound up with 43 points.

Typical of the ways the Bills tried to short-circuit their own cause was the game’s biggest play. In pure moment of rookie ignorance, Sammy Watkins caught a bomb from Orton and should have had clear sailing to the end zone. But his began celebrating prematurely, which caused him to be caught from behind after an 84-yard gain, making it the longest non-touchdown completion in Bills history. Watkins would make amends, however, by connecting with Orton for a 61-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. In keeping with the game’s tone, though, the highly reliable Dan Carpenter missed the extra point.

Speaking of history, Bills linebacker Nigel Bradham had one of the worst first-half performances the franchise has seen with three penalties (including a taunting call that knocked the Bills out of field-goal range after a turnover) and three whiffs on what should have been tackles. He picked up a facemask penalty late in the game for his fourth penalty of the game.

But in the end, it didn’t matter. The Bills have a 5-3 record … and that’s probably better than a whole lot of people expected of them through the first half of the season.

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