The Jets offense played very well, gaining 384 yards, limiting turnovers and penalties, and decisively winning the battle in the trenches in the 48-28 win over the Bills. Oh, and taking every critic off their back in the process, at least for a week.
Sanchez victimized the Bills defensive backs, going 19 – 27 for 266 yards with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Sanchez also boasted a 123.4 quarterback rating on the day. Sanchez made a couple questionable decisions early, and he needs to protect the ball better than he did against Buffalo.
Wide Receivers Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley dismantled the Bills secondary with Hill catching 5 of 6 targets for 89 yards and 2 touchdowns. Kerley caught all 4 targets for 45 yards and a touchdown. Kerley also returned a punt 68 yards, untouched for a touchdown. Kerley’s performance today was reminiscent of former Jets receiver and returner, Santana Moss. Both Hill and Kerley did a great job of beating the cornerbacks in man coverage and gained chunks of yards after the catch.
Receiver Santonio Holmes had a decent day, catching 4 of 8 targets for 68 yards. Holmes did enough to prove he and Sanchez have a good repertoire, but that won’t be enough against better defenses.
Injured tight end Dustin Keller (hamstring) played sparingly, catching his lone target for 7 yards on a hitch route. Backup tight end Jeff Cumberland had a solid performance catching 3 of 4 targets for 33 yards. 2 of those receptions were key first downs early in the game.
The running game was more of a compliment to the passing game for Sanchez and co. today with Shonn Greene toting the rock 27 times for a meager 94 yards (A paltry 3.4 yard average). A good amount of Greene’s yards and only touchdown were in the forth quarter in junk time. He also fumbled twice; both were recovered by the offense.
The offensive line deserves a game ball for the near perfect performance in protecting Sanchez. Sanchez was clean in the pocket most of the day and wasn’t sacked once – not how Buffalo envisioned their newly tuned defensive line would play against the lackluster Jets lineman. Right tackle Austin Howard made defensive end Mario Williams an afterthought, which was easily considered the most glaring matchup on the day. There’s nothing like an ex-practice squad member outplaying a $100 million man.
Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano called a great game and maximized Sanchez’s potential today. The Jets had the ball for 31:18 and as a team committed 5 penalties for 34 yards. The play calling was refreshing, with Sanchez consistently throwing down field and keeping Buffalo off balance. The Bills were an absolute mess in the first half and Sparano had a good role in making that happen.
The Wildcat was not as explosive as it was billed, but that didn’t matter today. Tim Tebow had an interesting role, starting the game running a hitch from the tight end position, and later rushing 5 times for 11 yards. Tebow played a good role in the wildcat, gaining the short yardage that made 3rd – 2’s a reality. Last year the Jets lead the league in 3 and out’s, but Sparano is looking to change the culture.
Defensively, the Jets played a ridiculously good 1st half, minus the C.J. Spiller 56 yard touchdown. Rex Ryan and Co. had Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing scared early on, and the Bills never were able to rebound. Cornerbacks Darelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson all came away with interceptions and Cromartie even scored a touchdown. Revis put in a MVP performance, with a phenomenal interception, a performance that neutralized receiver Stevie Johnson, and key tackles that slowed the Bills down. Johnson scored his 29-yard touchdown after Revis left the game with an apparent head injury. The injury is not believed to be a concussion.
Safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell came out with some intensity today. Landry was a menace, leading the Jets with 7 tackles, 2 hits on Ryan Fitzpatrick, and a couple crushing blows, including the shot on running back Fred Jackson. Opponents should be reluctant to go over the middle with Landry prowling around. Bell also had a good day with 4 tackles, and a fumble return (forced by Landry) that was later tossed to LaRon Landry.
The Special teams units was fantastic, with new punter Robert Malone booming 2 punts for an average of 51.5 yards with a beautiful one that dropped inside the 5-yard line and was downed by Isaiah Trufant at the 4-yard line. Kicker Nick Folk drilled 2 field goals and 5 extra points. Folk also did a great job of forcing touchbacks on kickoffs with consistently good kicks deep into the end zone.
The Jets defensive allowed 28 points and 390 yards on the day, but those numbers provide no justice for how dominant the Jets were early in the game.
Late in the game, Rex Ryan collided with Bills tight end Scott Chandler, which sent the coach stumbling to his knees. Ryan got up fast and gave Chandler a comical earful. Ryan looked great on the sidelines, shedding even more weight over training camp. Good to see he’s more durable than Ricky Sapp.
My Game Balls: Austin Howard, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Darelle Revis.
With the performance the Jets had today, the Pittsburgh Steelers look like a potentially great matchup next Sunday. First, lets see how they play the Denver Broncos tonight on Sunday Night Football.
You can follow Eric on Twitter, @EricG_89.