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Jets-Bills: The Hidden Plays That Swing Games

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Wide receiver Santonio Holmes of the New York Jets celebrates after his 69-yard touchdown catch in the second half of the Jets 27-20 win over the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 22, 2013 in East Rutherford, N.J. Photo by Ron Antonelli/Getty Images.
Wide receiver Santonio Holmes of the New York Jets celebrates after his 69-yard touchdown catch in the second half of the Jets 27-20 win over the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 22, 2013 in East Rutherford, N.J. Photo by Ron Antonelli/Getty Images.

Sunday's Jets-Bills game had a ton of big scoring plays, and what felt like 100 penalties, as each team seemed to want to give the game back to the other. However, it's often the plays that happen in between the touchdowns, field goals and penalties that really determine who wins. Here are seven of those hidden plays that swung the momentum a great deal throughout the game. 

Hidden Play #1: On the Jets' opening drive, they faced a 3rd and 17 at the Buffalo 39-yard line. The odds of converting a 3rd and 17 are about the same as the Jets winning the Super Bowl this year, but Geno Smith found Jeremy Kerley over the middle and hit him in stride, so he was able to get the last few yards on his own. This play was an early game-changer because the Jets would go on to score a TD on the drive, rather than settle for a long field goal attempt or punt. 

Hidden Plays #2 & #3: On the Bills second drive, they came out with two straight runs to the explosive CJ Spiller. The Jets stuffed the first play for a two-yard loss and the second play for a three-yard loss. Sure, it was early in the game, but these stuffs were crucial because they set the tone that the Bills were not going anywhere on the ground all day. If they wanted to beat the Jets, they would have to do it via the arm of EJ Manuel. 

Hidden Play #4: With a minute left in the first half, EJ Manuel hit Stevie Johnson for 5 yards on a 3rd down and 9. These are the plays that lose you games. Give credit to Kyle Wilson (who didn't play well overall) for making that tackle, but teams that don't throw to the chains on 3rd down tend to lose. The failure to get a first down here allowed the Jets to call a timeout, get the ball back and kick a field goal as the first half expired. 

Hidden Play #5: Late in the third quarter, the Bills had a first down at the Jets' 40-yard line down 20 to 9. Antonio Allen picked a great time to make a big play by sacking EJ Manuel for a 7-yard loss. After another incomplete pass and a sack by Calvin Pace, the Bills were forced to punt. Though the Bills would still come back to tie the game, the sack by Allen was key in stopping a promising drive, and at least helped delay the eventual comeback.

Hidden Play #6: Facing a third down and a short 1 early in the fourth quarter, the Jets attempted a rollout pass play to the short side of the field. This is rarely a good idea, as it shrinks the field and allows the defense to cover everyone more easily, which the Bills did. The Jets then punted and the Bills came right back down field to tie the game. 

Hidden Play #7: On the second play of the Bills' tying drive, EJ Manuel scrambled for 21 yards and clearly fumbled with the Jets recovering it. However, he was incorrectly ruled down by contact. Unfortunately, the Jets had no challenges remaining as Rex Ryan had chosen to challenge two earlier plays and lost both of them. This potentially could have cost the Jets the game, but luckily for Ryan, Geno Smith found Santonio Holmes for the game-winning score.