Sammy Watkins vs. Darrelle Revis
Credit the Bills with doing a great job of using pre-snap motion and bunch formations to help Sammy Watkins get early separation in his pass routes against the Jets. Watkins caught 11 passes for 136 yards. Two of them came when he was moved across the formation. Five came out of cluster or stack formations, forcing the Jets to back off at the snap. Revis seemed obsessed with not getting beaten deep by Watkins. The come-back route to Watkins was there all day because Revis usually was giving a cushion. Watkins’ biggest gainer was a 38-yard catch and run that set up a second-quarter field goal. The Jets blitzed on the play, which is probably why Revis was playing soft. Watkins had time to bobble and re-gather the ball.
Big bodies vs. Jets defense
The Bills’ running game plan was to power up with big bodies against a Jets defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL against the run. The Bills used tackle Cyrus Kouandjio as a tight end a bunch and used both Kouandjio and guard Ryan Groy as edge blockers a half-dozen times. New York’s run “D” allowed only 3.3 yards a carry up the middle this season. So the Bills tried to outsize them on the edges. Smart. The Bills didn’t exactly maul the Jets. Mike Gillislee had a whopping 28 yards on 24 carries. But Tyrod Taylor had 53 yards on 10 carries, and Karlos Williams had 24 on six carries. The Bills held the ball for 39:13. They converted 9 of 20 third downs against the No. 2-ranked third-down defense in the league. Five of those conversions were runs (three by Taylor).
Brandon Marshall vs. Bills DBs
The Jets’ star receiver capped the sixth 100-plus-catch season of his 10-year career with eight catches for 126 yards and a touchdown. That gave him 109 catches for 1,502 yards and 14 TDs, the latter a career-best. Marshall is the first NFL player with six 100-plus-catch seasons and the first NFL player to get 1,000 yards receiving with four different teams. Still, the Bills’ defense did a good job of preventing him from making game-breaking plays. The Bills played a safety over the top of Marshall a lot. His lone catch of more than 20 yards was a 41-yarder down the sideline in the second quarter. Leodis McKelvin had good coverage on the play, but Ryan Fitzpatrick was hit as he released the pass, and the ball was underthrown. Marshall came back to it.