ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) With Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on the immediate horizon, it didn't take Rex Ryan long to put behind an emotionally satisfying win over his former team, the New York Jets.
Some 12 hours after ripping off his headset and slamming it to the MetLife Stadium turf in celebration following a 22-17 win, the Buffalo Bills coach was already looking ahead in opening his news conference on Friday.
''A tad breezy out there,'' Ryan said, referring to the blustery conditions outside the Bills headquarters. ''I'll tell you this right now, I would sign up to play the Patriots right out here, right now: 70 mile-per-hour winds. Come on Brady, let's see what you've got.''
Ryan won't get his wish, and will instead have to sit and wait because the Patriots (8-0) must first play at the New York Giants on Sunday before hosting the Bills in prime time on Nov. 23.
What was evident in Ryan's comments is that the bring-'em-on swagger has returned to a Bills team that's beginning to resemble a playoff contender.
After an inconsistent 3-4 start, the Bills have won two straight, both against AFC East rivals.
At 5-4, the Bills are 3-1 in their division and one of just seven AFC teams with winning records. It also marks just the sixth time since 2000, when Buffalo's 15-year playoff drought began, that the Bills have had a winning record through nine games.
Buffalo's offense is showing signs of establishing the ''ground-and-pound'' identity Ryan had promised when he first took over in January. The one-two-punch combination of running backs LeSean McCoy and rookie backup Karlos Williams has combined for 358 yards rushing and four touchdowns over the past two games.
And Ryan's prized defense is finally delivering momentum-turning plays in the clutch.
Linebacker Jerry Hughes' sack and forced fumble helped secure Buffalo's 33-17 win over Miami on Sunday. Against the Jets, safety Bacarri Rambo forced a fumble and had two interceptions, and the Jets were stopped on fourth down twice in the final quarter.
''There's a lot confidence, man,'' Rambo said on Friday. ''It's a very good feeling just waking up in the morning, winning, and especially being headed in the right direction.''
The turnaround comes after the Bills used their bye week off to rest and refocus.
''I can just tell you this, you can see it, you can feel it tightening up,'' Ryan said. ''We know what we're trying to get accomplished for ourselves, for our fans. We know what we're trying to do here. And we're dead serious about it.''
The Bills still face a daunting stretch. They're in the midst of playing five of six on the road.
And the defending Super Bowl-champion Patriots are no pushover, particularly against Buffalo. The Bills are 3-27 against New England in their past 30 meetings, including a 40-32 loss on Sept. 20.
''We know what's in front us but here we go, man,'' Ryan said. ''We're going to give it our all.''
It helps that the Bills are getting healthier, particularly on offense.
Buffalo is 4-1 - the only loss was against New England - when McCoy, Williams, quarterback Tyrod Taylor and receiver Sammy Watkins are active.
The Bills still have question marks on defense. Safety Aaron Williams (neck) is out until December, while defensive tackle Kyle Williams' status remains uncertain after missing three games with a left knee injury.
NOTES: The Bills are off until returning to practice on Tuesday. ... The Bills managed just 13 first downs against the Jets. Buffalo has won three straight and four of its past five when totaling 13 or fewer first downs dating to the start of last season. ... The Bills have scored points on nine straight drives - and 18 of their past 19 - that entered into an opponent's territory.
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