Bills appear right at home with win at Ford Field
Detroit — Bills coach Doug Marrone heard that a radio station was trying to rally Jets fans to make the trip to Detroit and stage a green out at Ford Field on Monday night.
He didn't know what to expect when he walked onto the field before the game.
"I was concerned," he said. "Is it going to be a home field for us? But as soon as I came out and looked to the right and saw all those blue jerseys I said, 'Holy cow, baby. Here we go. We got our crowd.'"
Some 67,000 free tickets were distributed for the Bills-Jets game Monday night at Ford Field -- a game necessitated by the winter storm that shut down Buffalo last week -- and according to the Lions, 56,044 were redeemed.
Easily the largest and loudest contingent were Buffalo fans who escaped the nearly seven feet of snow and made the 216 mile trek to Detroit.
"It was motivation to see them, man," running back Boobie Dixon said. "We were just happy to see our people. We're stuck in Detroit and to see our people, we had to fight for them and show them we are still fighting for something."
The Bills rewarded their fans and their snowbound fans back in Western New York by pounding AFC East-rival Jets, 38-3. The win raised their record to 6-5 and keeps their slim playoff hopes alive.
"There's too many people to thank," Marrone said. "I gave a game ball to the emergency rescue team back in Erie County for their efforts. ... Our guys were ready to go. Whether they rallied around all the adversity or not is a question for them but we wanted to give the people back in our reason a chance to smile a little bit.
"This was more important for them than anything else."
It was also the Bills second victory at Ford Field this season -- they beat the Lions 17-14 on Oct. 5 -- and the second win at Ford Field for former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, the Bills defensive coordinator.
He was not carried off the field on the shoulders of his players this time, but it was his defense that set the tone. The Bills harassed Jets quarterback Michael Vick all game, sacking him four times, twice by Mario Williams.
"He came out and I was like 'Woah, holy cow, there he is,'" Marrone said. "Whatever that is, that's what we need to keep getting."
The Jets mustered just 81 total yards in the first half and never got untracked. They got a field goal from Nick Folk, but that was after they had it first-and-goal from the 4 and went backwards.
Kyle Orton, meanwhile, was doing what he typically does at Ford Field -- moving the chains. He completed 17 of 22 passes for 152 yards in the first half -- including a 7-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods and a 19-yard touchdown pass to Scott Chandler.
Orton, now 4-0 in four starts at Ford Field, finished 24-for-32 for 230 yards. Woods had a big night, catching nine passes for 118 yards.
Things went completely off the rails for the Jets in the second half.
Kicker Dan Carpenter booted a 53-yard field goal to start the second-half flurry.
The Jets went three and out on the ensuing possession and had to punt from their own goal line. Dixon came off the corner, bull-rushed his way past Jets Jaiquawn Jarrett and snuffed Ryan Quigley's punt attempt.
Manny Lawson recovered it in the end zone and just like that, the Bills were up 24-3.
"It wasn't anything that was called," Dixon said. "I just wanted to make a play. I was just going to block my man into the punter."
The Bills special teams coordinator, by the way, is former Lions special teams coordinator Danny Crossman.
Vick threw his final pass of the night on the next possession. It was picked off by Duke Williams and returned to the Jets' 16.
Three plays later, Fred Jackson scored on a 5-yard run to make it 31-3.
Geno Smith replaced Vick for the rest of the game. Vick finished 7-for-19 for 76 yards.
Odd that it was the Jets, who had a normal week of practice, who seemed completely out of sorts while the Bills, with just two full practices -- Friday and Saturday in Allen Park -- played a near flawless game.
"We were out of our comfort zone but we just kept telling each other we were going to make it work," said Dixon, who finished the scoring with a 30-yard touchdown run. "We knew we were dealing with a lot of smoke but we kept telling each other we've got to believe."
Jets coach Rex Ryan told the media during the week that his team looked a "zillion" times better during practice than it had the previous game. He had to eat that comment.
"We weren't a zillion times better," he said. "It was a horrible performance. We couldn't do anything right."
Marrone again thanked the Lions for taking them in, allowing them full run of their practice facility and doing their best to make Ford Field feel like home.
"I don't know if we could have been as prepared as a team if not for the Detroit Lions helping us with their facility and all their extra people," he said.
But, in the end, he and the rest of the Bills felt a little like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.
"I just told the guys," said Marrone, "I just want to go home. I just want to go home. It's been a long week."