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Rex Ryan gets last word after beating Jets

Head coach Rex Ryan of the Buffalo Bills

Head coach Rex Ryan of the Buffalo Bills reacts after a field goal late in the first half against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015 in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: Jim McIsaac

After four days of hype about the return of Rex Ryan to Jets country, where he held forth on the bully pulpit for six seasons, the Bills' coach pulled a pregame misdirection play by failing to appear during the warmup session to mingle with his former players and friends within the Jets' organization.

He left a crowd of photographers and reporters hanging at the Bills' entrance to the field during warmups. It was a move that was thoroughly out of character not only for Ryan but for any NFL head coach. He didn't enter the field until just before the opening kickoff, and the reception was muted, marked at most by a smattering of boos.

No matter. Ryan exulted later when the Bills got an interception that secured their 22-17 Thursday night, spiking his cap and headset and punching the air repeatedly.

Asked if it was satisfying to beat the team that fired him, Ryan said, "Pretty satisfying. Without question. It's definitely satisfying. Now I can say the truth. It's kind of like being dumped by some girl that you had the hots for. That's really what it feels like. Hey, you move on. Every now and then, they call you back. They can't get you back."

Clearly, Ryan was stung by criticism of his decision to name as one of his captains former Jet IK Enemkpali, the player who was released after slugging Geno Smith in training camp and breaking his jaw. Critics said it was Ryan's way of making the game about himself. Explaining his pregame no-show, Ryan said, "You guys made it all about me, and that's why I stayed in. It has (nothing) to do with me."

Enemkpali drew a mild chorus of boos, but that was about it. All the Jets captains shook his hand or embraced him. Ryan defended his choice of Enemkpali in a contentious exchange with the New York area media, saying he always names players captain against their former team. "It would have been a story had I not named him captain," Ryan said. "He's not a bad kid. You think that's the first fight that's ever happened in an NFL locker room? The young man made a mistake. You don't think he thinks about that every single day he's on our football team? I'm proud of him."

Asked if it was a bad example to name a player captain after he injured Smith, Ryan responded heatedly, "It's a bad example to judge people. Nobody's perfect, including every single person that's pointing a finger."

Asked what he said to his players after beating the Jets, Ryan couldn't resist, wise-cracking, "Something immature like I always do."

Actually, defensive lineman Marcel Dareus said Ryan told them: "We said we were going to do it, and we did it."

Center Eric Wood added, "He didn't make it all about him this week . . . But afterward we gave him the game ball, and we were definitely happy to get the win for him. I presented it. I just said, 'Welcome back to the Big Apple, man.' "

New York Sports