Ryan's new team, the Buffalo Bills, raced out to a 19-point lead Thursday before hanging on for a 22-17 win over the Jets at MetLife Stadium.
The Bills led 22-3 midway through the third but didn't seal the game until the final half-minute, when safety Bacarri Rambo picked off Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick at the Buffalo 42-yard-line.
Television cameras captured Ryan yelling exuberant expletives and pumping his fist so hard that his hat fell off.
"Pretty satisfying? Yup, without question, it's definitely satisfying," Ryan said of beating the Jets, whom he led to consecutive AFC Championship Games in his first two seasons before failing to reach the playoffs in the final four.
The Jets fired Ryan last Dec. 29, a day after the season finale, and hired Todd Bowles 23 days later.
"It's kind of like being dumped by some girl that you had the hots for and all that stuff," Ryan said. "Every guy in the room has been dumped by some girl before. That's really what it feels like, and you know ..."
Ryan paused and smirked.
"Every now and then they call you back," he said. "They can't get you back."
It remains to be seen if the Jets will regret firing Ryan. However, Thursday's result doubly enhanced the Bills' hopes of ending an NFL-long 15-year playoff drought while laying a twin blow to the postseason aspirations of the Jets, who lost for the third time in four games.
"We knew the playoff implications of this game, and we knew this was a game to put us in a good spot going forward," Bills guard Richie Incognito said.
The Bills, Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers are all tied for the lead in the AFC wild card race at 5-4, with the Oakland Raiders lurking at 4-4. However, the Jets lost to both the Raiders and Bills, whom they visit again in the season finale Jan. 3.
"The game felt like playoff intensity -- both teams fighting for their lives to get in," Ryan said. "Obviously, been a long time since the Jets made it. Been a long time since we made it. Wouldn't be surprising if that last game decides who goes."
The game seemed decided when the Bills scored 22 unanswered points -- via three field goals from kicker Dan Carpenter, a fumble recovery for a touchdown by safety Duke Williams and a 26-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyrod Taylor to running back Karlos Williams -- in a span of 8:05 between the second and third quarters.
"Pretty bad to fall behind that much," Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said.
However, the Jets stormed back thanks to a suddenly stout defense, which forced four consecutive three-and-outs, as well as a previously scattershot Fitzpatrick, who found wide receiver Brandon Marshall for a 14-yard touchdown with 4:23 left in the third and wide receiver Eric Decker for a 31-yard touchdown pass over the middle midway through the fourth.
"We had a lead," Ryan said. "You were never comfortable."
The Jets appeared ready to take the lead with five minutes left when Buffalo punter Colton Schmidt dropped the snap and was swallowed up by several Jets as he recovered it at the Bills' 13-yard-line.
Running back Chris Ivory (18 carries for 99 yards) gained 8 yards on first down, but the Jets lost a yard apiece on the next two plays before Fitzpatrick overthrew tight end Kellen Davis in the end zone on fourth down.
"We were thinking touchdown," Bowles said. "I don't know (if) with a field goal we would have gotten the ball back right there (with) an onside kick. We had a better chance of scoring a touchdown right there as opposed to just trying to kick a field goal."
Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy (19 carries for 112 yards) gained 32 yards during the subsequent possession as the Bills collected two first downs, forced the Jets to use all their timeouts and bled 2:23 off the clock.
The Jets took over at their own 36-yard-line with 24 seconds left, but Fitzpatrick (15-for-34, 193 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions) was picked off on the next play to set off Ryan's wild celebration.
NOTES: During the first quarter, the Jets flashed an "in memoriam" message on the scoreboard honoring longtime equipment manager Bill Hampton, who died this week at age 86. ... Among the Jets' inactives were CB Antonio Cromartie (thigh bruise), S Dion Bailey (ankle) and S Calvin Pryor (ankle). The Jets added secondary depth by activating CB Dee Milliner from injured reserve-designated to return on Wednesday and promoting S Ronald Martin from the practice squad on Thursday. ... One-time starting QB EJ Manuel was a healthy inactive for the Bills. ... Bills DE Mario Williams, who was listed as probable due to a calf injury, played just one snap due to illness.