The Jets expected a battle in Buffalo and they got that and much more. The Bills defeated the Green & White, 17-14, at Ralph Wilson Stadium as their defense stepped up late with two crucial fourth-quarter interceptions from corners Jabari Greer and Terrence McGee. Quarterback Trent Edwards was outstanding in his first NFL start, completing 22 of 28 passes for 234 yards and tossing the game's winning score.
"This is a game we should have won to put us 2-2," said DE Shaun Ellis. "We just didn't get the job done."
Points were at a premium when these clubs reached the fourth quarter locked at 7. The Bills didn't flinch, though, grabbing the lead with a 46-yard Rian Lindell field goal. Then a hot Chad Pennington, who had completed his previous 15 passes, was intercepted by Greer. That set up the Bills at the Jets 25 and they would further their advantage to 17-7 on a 1-yard pass from Edwards to TE Michael Gaines.
"He did a great job. He threw the ball to the open guy. Guys were getting open and he was looking for them," Ellis said of Edwards. "They gave him an offense that he was comfortable with and he executed."
It looked like the Jets were going to keep it a one-possession game when DT Sione Pouha stopped RB Marshawn Lynch for no gain on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Bills head coach Dick Jauron sent Lindell back out for another field goal and then called timeout to ponder the decision. On second thought, he sent his offense for a critical fourth-down attempt and Edwards executed the call perfectly, rolling right and hitting a wide-open Gaines.
Down 10, the desperate Jets rallied. They moved down the field in 11 plays and made it a 17-14 contest with an 8-yard Leon Washington run. Just three minutes remained and the Jets had one timeout and the two-minute warning to stop the clock. The defense held for a three-and-out, getting an impressive pass deflection from rookie CB Darrelle Revis on the all-important third down.
The Green & White moved downfield in hopes of getting a tying field goal attempt. But with the seconds rolling off the clock, Chad Pennington was picked off by McGee. Both teams are now 1-3 after the season's first quarter .
"I was trying to throw it away," Pennington said of the final pass. "The ball came out a little bit weird."
After 38 minutes of scoreless football, Lynch stormed his way home for a 10-yard touchdown. But the Jets answered on the ensuing possession, scoring on a 5-yard fade from Pennington to Laveranues Coles. On the third-and-1 play, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer put Pennington in the shotgun and the eight-year pro completed his 14th consecutive pass. It was Coles' fourth touchdown of the season.
In a rarity, the teams played to a scoreless first half. Kicker Mike Nugent clanged a 37-yard field goal off the right upright at the final gun.
The Jets stopped two early scoring threats with takeaways in their territory, including Andre Dyson's first pick of the season. Wideout Lee Evans appeared open down the left sideline, but the veteran corner jumped up to prevent a long touchdown and force a touchback. Both quarterbacks had very good numbers through two quarters but nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
Neither team had tremendous success on the ground. Lynch powered his way for 79 yards on 23 carries and was kept in check the majority of the time. Thomas Jones (12-35) and Leon Washington (4-24) combined to gain 59 yards on a game defense missing a number of its regulars.
"We definitely wanted to get the running game going and take advantage of some of the guys being out, but we didn't execute the way we were supposed to in some situations," Jones said. "We didn't take advantage of opportunities we had and we had penalties. Anytime you have those things combined, you make it hard for you to win a football game."
Pennington threw for 290 yards in defeat and Jerricho Cotchery, who had 106 yards receiving, joined Coles and Washington with eight receptions.
Next week, the Jets will stay on the "road" and visit the crosstown Giants at the Meadowlands.
"I told them the answers are not outside of the room — they're inside the room," said head coach Eric Mangini.
"We will get it turned around," said Ellis.
The Marino Special
With the Bills expecting a spike late in the second, the Jets went to their bag of tricks. Pennington faked grounding the ball and hit Laveranues Coles for a 16-yard gain. Coles was tackled just in time for a Jets timeout with one second left, but Nugent followed with an unusual misfire.
Welcome to the NFL
Outside linebacker Victor Hobson sacked Trent Edwards on the Bills' first drive. The Jets ran a nice stunt, having Hobson stand up over center and moving DT Dewayne Robertson to the right side of the line. Hobson came through untouched for the free shot at the rookie passer and collected the club's second sack of the season. Then in the second quarter, DE Shaun Ellis overpowered OL Brad Butler and racked up his second sack of the year.
The Bills were on the move late in the first quarter when rookie CB Darrelle Revis forced a fumble from TE Robert Royal after a short reception. Edwards completed seven of his first eight passes, but that seventh completion was wasted as Revis ripped the ball out and Hobson recovered.
Big Australian Ben Graham helped the visitors in the field position battle early in the scoreless second, pinning the hosts back on their 3-yard line.
Stick of the First Half
It was a collision of rookies when Marshawn Lynch and David Harris met. Score this one for the talented linebacker from Michigan as he caught the former California star RB in his arms and body-slammed him to the turf.
The Bills played a lot of Cover-2 out of their base 4-3. Pennington had good numbers, completing a career-high 32 passes, but the offense rarely struck downfield.
"They're a bend-but-don't-break defense. That's their mentality,' he said. "They were trying to stay on top of all our deep vertical routes and make us check it down and gain our yards the hard way."