ORCHARD PARK, NY — Ryan Fitzpatrick took quite the break from the “Rex Hex” upon another return to his old stomping grounds on Thursday night.
The New York Jets quarterback, who entered the game against the Buffalo Bills with a career record of 1-8 against Rex Ryan-coached teams, came out on fire to spark a 37-31 victory.
He passed for 374 yards and committed none of the costly errors that doomed him in the past to extract a measure of revenge against his former team.
“It means a little bit more than a regular game,” admitted Fitzpatrick, who played four much-maligned seasons with the Bills.
His big night went a long way toward spoiling the festive atmosphere at New Era Field that was stoked in honoring legendary Bills star Bruce Smith, whose iconic No. 78 jersey was retired during a halftime ceremony.
Smith, the NFL’s all-time sack leader, is the second former Bills player to have his jersey retired following ex-quarterback Jim Kelly’s No. 12.
Yet it was Fitzpatrick – who threw three picks in his last game here against his former team when the Jets suffered a disastrous loss in the season finale that kept them out of the playoffs – who emerged as the man of the hour in the game.
“I think it was big for Fitzpatrick, psychologically,” Jets coach Todd Bowles told USA TODAY Sports. “This was only my third time playing them (since becoming Jets coach last year). But it goes deeper for that for him.”
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