The players on the Jets offense spent quite a bit of time over the last week-plus talking about what they were unable to do against New England.
Tonight, the discussion shifted from can't to can as they showed what they're capable of, putting up 513 yards of total offense in a 27-20 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
It was the most yardage in a game in Rex Ryan's head-coaching tenure, 99 yards more than any other home game under Rex (we had 414 in Game 6 vs. Buffalo in '09) and the first time we had 500 yards or more in a win since the 44-6 trouncing of the Colts and then-rookie Peyton Manning in 1998.
"Well, don't give me credit," Ryan said of 15th 500-yard performance in franchise history, which just happened to come against Rex's former defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, now Buffalo's D-coordinator. "That's clearly our offensive staff, and when we protect, we can make some plays."
A triumvirate of third-down conversions on the game's opening drive set the tone early, including a 45-yard completion to WR Stephen Hill and an 18-yard catch-and-run by WR Jeremy Kerley on third-and-17. They led to an 8-yard touchdown run for QB Geno Smith and a 7-0 lead.
Two early-second-quarter Buffalo field goals cut our lead to 7-6, but Smith hit Hill in stride on a deep ball down the right sideline for a 51-yard touchdown, and Nick Folk kicked field goals to end the first half and start the second half, so the Jets were up 20-6 early in the third quarter.
Things got dicey, though, as penalties mounted and the seemingly impenetrable defense began to fold. Two more Dan Carpenter field goals followed by a Scott Chandler touchdown and a two-point conversion to WR Stevie Johnson tied the score at 20-20 with 10:47 remaining.
With the offense suddenly needing to re-establish the tone, they turned to Tone.
Santonio Holmes' illegal shift made it first-and-15, but he made up for those 5 penalty yards and more on the very next play when he hauled in a deep ball from Smith, stiff-armed CB Justin Rogers to the ground and kept running all the way into the end zone for a 69-yard touchdown.
"Our job is to go out and make plays and Geno gave me an opportunity to make the play," Santonio said. "The ball landed in the perfect place for me to get a chance to catch it."
Holmes and Hill each set career highs in receiving yards, with 154 and 108 respectively, and Smith had the best game of his young career also with 331 yards through the air.
Meanwhile, despite a first-quarter hamstring injury to RB Chris Ivory, the Jets were able to move the ball on the ground as well. Not to be excluded, RB Bilal Powell also set career highs in both carries (27) and rush yards (149).
"What a day," Rex said of the "durable, dependable" third-year back, "He's just a much better player than he has been given credit for."
"It's always good to have a one-two punch to wear defenses down," Powell said, "but when [Ivory] went down, we just had to focus and stick to our game plan. The offensive line did a great job tonight keeping a lot of guys off me."
The ever-important win over a division opponent at home was not exactly flawless with 20 Green & White penalties in the game, but the Jets are now 2-1 overall, 1-1 in the division, and ready to move on to Tennessee. "It may not always be the prettiest or the most perfect display of offense," T Austin Howard said, "but our offense is starting to click together. I believe that the work and effort put in throughout the week in practice is starting to pay dividends, and you're seeing it in the game."