Road Warriors: Jets Trip Up Bills, 26-17


2008 Week 9 - Jets at Buffalo Photos

The New York Jets got their statement win on the road Sunday, using a complete team effort to defeat the Buffalo Bills, 26-17. With the victory, the Jets soared to 5-3 and set up a possible three-way tie for first place in the AFC East.

They scored defensively in the first quarter on Abram Elam's 92-yard interception return, they scored offensively in the third quarter on Thomas Jones' 7-yard run, and Jay Feely kicked two field goals in each half for the winners.

The Green & White thwarted the Bills time and time again in the opening 30 minutes and never gave their foes a second-half lead.  And when they were challenged late, the Men of Mangini came up with a beautiful drive to lock it up.

"I think that was a big divisional win, something to set the tone for the rest of the year," Elam said.

Brett Favre has played in 42 stadiums and the future Hall of Famer now has won at an NFL-record 32 different venues. He got his first win in four appearances at Ralph Wilson Stadium while outplaying Trent Edwards this afternoon, completing 19 of 28 passes for 201 yards.

"It feels as good as any win I've been a part of," Favre said.

The Jets, who played great team defense with a trio of takeaways and five sacks of Edwards, have captured four of five overall and are 2-1 in the AFC East. Buffalo, also 5-3, is 0-2 in the division and has to play at the Patriots next weekend.

Kris Jenkins was phenomenal in the middle, racking up two sacks of Edwards and helping the Jets hold the Bills to just 30 yards rushing.

"He's tough to handle and he plays with very good technique," said head coach Eric Mangini. "He is able to go from playing two-gap, controlling the gap, to rushing the passer, and he has another gear when he's getting off the ball in interior pass rush situations. He just causes a lot of problems internally for our opponents."

"He's two people," added corner Darrelle Revis of Jenkins. "We don't have 11 — we have 12. He's great."

In most cases, teams will typically find themselves trailing in a game if they don't score an offensive touchdown in the first 43 minutes of action. But when TJ powered his way into the end zone, the Jets had moved to a 23-10 advantage late in the third.

"This is a lot closer to complete football that we can play," Mangini said, "where all three phases did positive things: being able to minimize the mistakes, minimize the penalties and create turnovers defensively."

And when Bills kicker Rian Lindell missed a field goal from 43 yards, it appeared the Jets might have an opportunity to cruise down the stretch.

But after the change of possession, Favre threw up the sideline to Jerricho Cotchery and got Jabari Greer instead. The Buffalo corner ran 42 yards for a score, cutting the fourth-quarter lead to 23-17.

The Jets wouldn't let this slip away. They responded like a playoff team would, killing the clock on a fabulous 8-minute, 41-second march. Feely's fourth field goal, a 36-yard shot out of a tremendous Reggie Hodges hold after a high snap, put the Jets up by nine with just two minutes to play.

"That drive was one of the most important drives for us offensively all year," Favre said, "not only because it helped win the game but it was sort of a statement drive — not only to maybe other teams but to ourselves."

Much of the talk entering this contest had centered on Favre's propensity for turnovers, but it was Edwards' two critical first-half errors that got the Jets on the right side of a 13-7 score at halftime.

Years from now, it will be remembered as one of the wildest 15 minutes and 8 seconds in franchise history. The Green & White didn't have the ball for one offensive play over that time span and they still outscored the host Bills by 7-0.

Elam's interception return gave the visitors that 13-7 lead, ending a Buffalo 14-play, 56-yard drive. Then the Jets stonewalled running back Fred Jackson on a fourth-and-1 attempt from the 8, halting a 13-play, 58-yard march without any points.

"That was us really showing ourselves as a defense," Jenkins said of the stand. "I think it did make a statement."

To close the opening frame, Edwards threw into double coverage on third-and-goal, finding Elam instead of Roscoe Parrish. Elam jumped the route and returned the ball almost the length pf the field 92 yards to quiet the Western New Yorkers.

"I saw the read and I knew there was a chance for me to make a play, so I stepped in front of him and I was grateful I was able to get in the end zone," Elam said.

In a gutsy and brilliant coaching move, the Jets, trailing 7-3 in the opening quarter, sent their best cover corner on a blitz. Edwards never saw Revis coming and the Bills' signalcaller couldn't hold onto the ball when Revis blindsided him. Revis even recovered and the Jets closed the gap to just one on Feely's 26-yard kick.

While the Jets jumped out quickly, the Bills initially did more than match in return. After Leon Washington's 40-yard gain on a middle screen set up Feely's 37-yard strike, the Bills came right back and got in the end zone when Edwards found rookie tight end Derek Fine wide open in the center of the end zone for a 9-yard score.

The Bills received a little help from the Jets on the touchdown and Marshawn Lynch's 42-yard reception to start the drive. Fine was all by his lonesome because Elam got caught up with Revis on Lee Evans. On the Bills' first play from scrimmage, Edwards went through his progressions and dumped the ball off to a forgotten Lynch on a blown coverage.

Those infamous Buffalo winds prevented a 16-7 Jets advantage at half as Feely's third attempt sailed left. But Feely cleanly struck a 20-yarder midway through the third and the Green & White had pushed their advantage to two scores for the first time.

And yet Buffalo hung tough, answering on Lindell's 53-yard launch with just 3:38 remaining in the third quarter.

After placing a premium on ball security, the Jets finished plus-2 in turnover margin and Revis fittingly sent Buffalo fans home with an athletic interception late in the game. The 5'11" Revis simply boxed out 6'5" James Hardy and made sure there would be no comeback.

Revis was fantastic throughout, shutting down Lee Evans (four catches, 41 yards) and coming up with two takeaways himself.

"We knew we had to take control of it," Revis said. "This is a hostile environment in Buffalo. The fans are great and they're rowdy. We just wanted to take the momentum away from them."

If the Patriots lose at Indianapolis tonight, the Jets, Bills and Pats will share identical 5-3 marks.

"I think it's an incredibly tough division," Mangini said. "I think all the teams we face are well-coached and they've all got different weapons in multiple areas."

Hitman Down

For the first time in his NFL career, David Harris was unable to suit up and play. Harris, an inside linebacker in his second season out of Michigan, suffered a groin injury against the Chiefs and did not make the trip to Buffalo.

David Bowens took Harris' place in the lineup and the Jets also had an expected lineup change at safety. Elam got his second start of the season as Eric Smith has been slowed by a head injury.

Making '08 Debuts

Safety James Ihedigbo, a recent practice squad callup, was active for the first time as a pro.   Also LB Jason Trusnik, who was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list in training camp, made his seasonal debut.

Trusnik forced a holding penalty that nullified what would have been a successful fourth-down conversion as P Brian Moorman raced to what was an apparent first down.

Land of Opportunity

Despite the big-game atmosphere, the Jets weren't afraid to give four undrafted free agents — Ihedibgo, Trusnik, DE Mike DeVito and OL/TE Robert Turner — significant roles.

Turner got some reps at tight end for the second consecutive game, which included him going in motion a few times.

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