Stefon Diggs, Matt Breida play key roles as Bills get right with blowout of Jets

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The Buffalo Bills needed to do one thing Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.

Coming off one of the most egregious losses in their history, the debacle last week at Jacksonville, there was no gray area here. Face to face with yet another clearly inferior opponent in the New York Jets, the Bills not only needed to win, they needed to get right.

I’d say 45-17 did the job.

The Buffalo defense made Jets QB Mike White look like the career practice squad player he had been until a month ago, intercepting him four times, and the offense – after a little stumbling in the second quarter – lit up a terrible New York defense both on the ground and through the air.

The win enabled Buffalo (6-3) to remain alone in first place in the AFC East just ahead of the red-hot New England Patriots (6-4) who, sorry to say, are back and a legitimate concern after their one-year hiatus. Their 45-7 annihilation of the Browns added further proof of that.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) catches a touchdown pass against New York Jets cornerback Javelin Guidry (40) during the second quarter.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) catches a touchdown pass against New York Jets cornerback Javelin Guidry (40) during the second quarter.

Here are some instant reactions.

1. Getting Stefon Diggs involved paid off

As I wrote earlier this week, Diggs’ numbers this season – targets and catches, specifically – really aren’t that far off from 2020. It only felt like they weren’t at the same level. The difference between this year and last was that there just hadn’t been a game where Josh Allen continually fed Diggs and allowed him to take control.

That changed in New York. Allen made a concerted effort to get the ball to Diggs and the results were predictably impressive. In the first half alone Diggs had nine targets, more than he had in four full games – both Miami games, Chiefs and Jaguars.

Diggs caught five of those for 88 yards including a 57-yarder that turned the game back in Buffalo’s favor late in the first half. At that point, the Bills – who had started well with 10 points on their first two possessions – needed a big play and Diggs provided it.

That long pass set up Diggs’ 12-yard touchdown reception two snaps later which gave the Bills a 17-3 lead.

And then on the first play of the third quarter, Diggs made a 23-yard reception that started Buffalo on a quick 75-yard touchdown drive which basically put the game out of reach. That one gave Diggs his second 100-yard game of the season and he finished with eight catches on 13 targets for 162 yards.

That’s what Allen has to do more often; look to get Diggs involved early and often because when he does, good things almost always happen.

2. Maybe Matt Breida should have been used earlier

The struggles in the run game had become a major point of contention for the Buffalo offense. Not only was there a lack of production, but because there was no threat on the ground, opposing defenses were starting to make things difficult for Allen and the receivers.

Breida was active the first two weeks but was hardly used on offense, then spent the next six games inactive. Sunday, Breida got the call and while playing on special teams in place of Jake Kumerow – who is out with COVID-19 – Breida was given a chance to play offense, and he came through in a big way.

He scored a touchdown on the Bills’ first possession when he altered his route when Josh Allen was pressured and worked his way open in the end zone for a 15-yard reception. And then in the third quarter Breida first carry resulted in a 15-yard TD run as he showed off his speed around the edge.

Breida gives defenses a different look than Devin Singletary and Zack Moss, and the Bills need to find a way to keep him involved in the offense moving forward.

However, that fumble early in the fourth quarter? That was not ideal, and that’s the kind of thing that could land him right back on the bench.

Buffalo Bills' Tre'Davious White, right, intercepts a pass intended for New York Jets' Elijah Moore during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Buffalo Bills' Tre'Davious White, right, intercepts a pass intended for New York Jets' Elijah Moore during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

3. When does Zach Wilson return for the Jets?

Look, White got some people excited because he somehow found a way to throw for 405 yards in his first career NFL start a few weeks ago which led the Jets to a stunning 34-31 victory over the Bengals.

But against a Buffalo defense that came into the game No. 1 in both fewest points and yards allowed, White was unmasked. He was helpless until the Bils decided to stop caring in the fourth quarter and he piled up plenty of garbage time yardage that was all meaningless.

Wilson was held out of the game, not only to make sure his knee is better, but because White had provided the Jets with a little bit of a spark. But Wilson is the Jets future, and they need to get him back out there as soon as possible.

Sal Maiorana can be reached at maiorana@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana.

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Buffalo Bills rout New York Jets as Stefon Diggs, Matt Breida shine