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Jay Skurski's 10 observations: Bills' LeSean McCoy finally has breakout game

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Guess who’s back, back again? Shady’s back, tell a friend.

Buffalo Bills fans had that Eminem song lyric running through their heads Sunday while watching LeSean McCoy run through the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

McCoy finally had the breakout game everyone has been waiting for, rushing 26 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns in the Bills’ shockingly easy 41-10 win over their AFC East rivals.

“It’s like that big monkey is off my back a little bit,” McCoy said. “It feels a lot better, I think, today just because of how we’ve been running the ball on offense and how we’ve been playing. ... That defense is good, so I was shocked the way we moved it running the ball. Just feels good to go against a top defense and actually put up some good yards.”

McCoy had 100-plus rushing yards and at least two rushing touchdowns for the 1oth time in his career, joining Adrian Peterson (17) as the only two active players with at least 10. He also moved into 26th place on the league’s all-time rushing list, passing Marshawn Lynch, Eddie George and Tiki Barber to move up from No. 29. He also surpassed 14,000 yards from scrimmage in his career, becoming just the 22nd running back in league history to hit that milestone.

McCoy didn’t need long to get going against the Jets, taking a carry on the Bills’ second offensive play 28 yards for a touchdown. His second score came from 1-yard out in the second quarter, putting the Bills up, 31-0.

“The play that stands out for me is the one where somebody came clean off the edge and LeSean made him miss behind the line,” coach Sean McDermott said. “That is the LeSean McCoy that I know – that we all know. It was good to get him going today.”

It’s been a frustrating season for McCoy, who entered Sunday’s game with 85 carries for 267 yards and no touchdowns. He admitted Friday he hasn’t always handled that frustration well. The Bills, though, have stuck by him, electing not to make a trade at the deadline and committing to McCoy being here in 2019.

“I thought he had a great week of practice. The focus was there, and he brought that energy on the field,” McDermott said.

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2. The Bills got creative in the first half, executing a perfect fake punt when the snap went to tight end Logan Thomas – a converted quarterback – and he threw to rookie receiver Robert Foster for a 15-yard gain.

“I’m just thankful they had the faith to call it,” Thomas said. “It’s something I did for years and years. I’ve always felt comfortable with the ball in my hands. We were up seven at the time, and to put another score on the board was huge.”

Thomas said that it’s been an idea the team has had since he arrived, and the “perfect opportunity” presented itself. On the CBS broadcast, analyst Jay Feely said the Bills had practiced the play for the past three weeks and had moved Thomas to the spot he lined up in so that it wouldn’t be an alert to the defense to see him there.

“That was big for us as well,” McDermott said. “Danny Crossman, our special teams coach, had a well-devised plan.”

3. Second-year receiver Zay Jones set career highs in targets (11), catches (eight) and yards (93). He became the first Bills receiver this season to reach two touchdown catches when he hauled in an 8-yarder from Matt Barkley in the third quarter.

“I felt that it was going to be a good week,” Jones said. “It was just awesome to see how we started clicking.”

Jones leads the Bills with 37 catches for 392 yards this season.

“He’s understanding situational football,” McDermott said of Jones.

4. Sunday’s win might have come with a significant cost. Linebacker Matt Milano left the game in the second half and was escorted to the locker room by trainers. The team announced a short time later that Milano was being evaluated for a head injury. He did not return. Milano had an impressive interception in the first half and would be a tough player for the Bills to replace if he misses time. He plays in every situation, and the team released his backup, veteran Ramon Humber, on Saturday to make room for Foster.

5. Cornerback Taron Johnson did not play in the second half because of a shoulder injury. It’s something that has nagged the rookie fourth-round draft pick for most of the season.

Johnson said after the game that he was sore.

“It’s tough. I’m just trying to stay positive, and do my rehab to get it back on the right track,” he said. “That’s really what it comes down to. I’m just trying to make sure it stays together, honestly.”

The Bills now enter their bye week, so that gives Johnson and Milano some time to heal.

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6. Kicker Stephen Hauschka moved into a tie for 50th on the NFL’s all-time list with 234th career field goals. It came from 54 yards out, his 11th field goal of 50-plus yards since joining the Bills last season. That ties Atlanta’s Matt Bryant for the most in the NFL since 2017.

"There are no gimmes, ever. Let's be honest,” Hauschka said. “The key is just to swing away, and put a confident swing on it from wherever I am on the field. I feel like I do that all over the field, but sometimes it's actually easier to do that from long range, because you know you've got to have a nice free swing on it, you're not going to get it there by dinking it. It's an area to just let it rip."

7. The Bills dodged a bullet in the first half when defensive end Jerry Hughes stayed down on the field and appeared to grab for his right leg. Trainers came out, but Hughes was able to pop up and gingerly walk off the field.

“I knew it wasn't going to be anything too serious,” Hughes said. “Just needed a couple minutes to kind of gather myself, shake off the pain, go out there and have fun with my guys."

A short time later, he was back in the game and registered a sack of Josh McCown. That pushed Hughes’ season total to 5.5, tops on the team.

8. On a day not much went wrong for the offense, one small blemish was the performance of wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. In particular, one play stood out. Benjamin had the ball in his hands in the end zone in the second quarter, but wasn’t able to complete the catch. Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne knocked away the ball as both players fell to the ground. It was a nice effort by Claiborne, but that’s the type of contested catch that is supposed to be Benjamin’s specialty.

Bills-Jets Report Card: Straight As across the board in big Buffalo win

9. The team made a pair of changes to the starting lineup. Rookie Wyatt Teller replaced Vlad Ducasse as the starting left guard, while cornerback Levi Wallace started in the spot vacated by the release of Phillip Gaines. Wallace, who was promoted early in the week from the practice squad, got the call ahead of Ryan Lewis. It’s the second time this season the Bills have put a player into the starting lineup straight from the practice squad, doing so previously with safety Dean Marlowe.

10. The Bills were without running back Chris Ivory against his old team. Ivory missed the game because of a shoulder injury suffered in Week 9 against Chicago. That left the team with McCoy and Marcus Murphy as the only two healthy running backs.

Buffalo’s other inactive players were quarterbacks Josh Allen (elbow) and Derek Anderson (concussion), tight end Charles Clay (hamstring), defensive end Trent Murphy (knee) and offensive linemen Ike Boettger and Conor McDermott.

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