Rex Ryan’s return to the Meadowlands almost slipped away from him, but the Buffalo Bills defense buckled down in the final minutes resulting in a 22-17 win against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Thursday night.

The Bills defense picked off their former quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick twice and forced a fumble from Jets running back Chris Ivory.

Special teams has been an issue in recent weeks, but a Duke Williams forced fumble on a kickoff in the second quarter would then be returned for a touchdown, putting the Bills up for good. 

Ryan was fired by the Jets in January after six seasons and was hired soon after by the Bills. All week long, he implored the media that this game was not about him, though some of his antics may prove otherwise.

During team warmups before the game, Ryan never appeared on the field, a decision rarely, if ever, seen in the NFL. After the game was cemented, Ryan could be spotted jumping and screaming for joy on the Bills sideline.

A 19-point lead in the third quarter all but disappeared late in the game after two Jets touchdowns made it 22-17 Bills with under eight minutes to play. Disaster seemed imminent when Bills punter Colton Schmidt fumbled a snap on 4th down from his own 13.

The Jets could then only muster six yards of offense on four plays, turning the ball over when Fitzpatrick’s 4th down pass soared over the head of tight end Kellen Davis in the back of the endzone.

With the win, the Bills now have a 5-4 record and sit in fifth place in the AFC with seven games to play. Next up is a showdown in Foxboro against the New England Patriots on Monday, November 23rd.