New York Jets defeated the Buffalo Bills in their season opener 48-28 Sunday, as Mark Sanchez threw three touchdowns and 266 yards, and Stephen Hill caught two majors in his NFL debut.
Buffalo (0-1) was hindered by a poor first half from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick as he threw for interceptions on the team’s first two drives and both running back Fred Jackson and receiver David Nelson left the game with knee injuries.
After Jackson’s exit with 11:07 left in the second quarter, C.J. Spiller stepped in admirably with 169 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown.
Bills head coach Chan Gailey spoke about the severity of Jackson and Nelson’s ailments in the post-game press conference.
“Fred doesn’t look as bad as David. We don’t know how bad David is, but it doesn’t look good right now,” said Gailey. “Fred doesn’t look nearly as bad, but we’re going to get a further evaluation tomorrow.”
New York (1-0) came out flying as Buffalo’s much-heralded defensive line was largely kept in check, and Mario Williams’s first game as a Bill was largely forgettable. Buffalo failed to record a sack, and the inability to generate an adequate pass rush allowed New York to dictate the pace.
Buffalo’s rush was ineffective in stopping Mark Sanchez from spraying passes all over the field, quieting concerns about the Jets’ depth at wide receiver for the time being.
Williams was irate about the officiating after the game.
“You’re getting off the ball and getting punched in the face, literally, not an accident, just about every other time. That’s a penalty. Unless they changed it with the new CBA or something, but last time I checked it was a penalty,” the defensive end told the Buffalo News.
Jeremy Kerley caught a 12-yard pass to open the scoring for the Jets, and after Hill added his first touchdown of the game, Kerley struck again in the second quarter with a 68-yard punt return, putting New York up 21-0.
After New York’s wide receivers were faced with skepticism throughout the pre-season, Kerley and Santonio Holmes exposed the Bills’ secondary.
The duo of rookie Stephon Gilmore and sophomore Aaron Williams must do a better job in man-to-man coverage if the Bills are to match their lofty pre-season expectations.
Spiller put Buffalo on the board with a 56-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. However, Nick Folk punctuated the Jets’ excellent first half with two field goals, putting the team up 27-7.
In the second half, Fitzpatrick salvaged a horrific first half, finishing 18-for-32, 195 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.
After an unsuccessful first half symptomatic of the whole team, Stevie Johnson and Donald Jones caught 29 and 6 yard touchdown passes respectively, in a fourth quarter rally that would ultimately prove to be futile.
Darrelle Revis also left with a head injury that was not diagnosed as a concussion in the fourth quarter. Jets head coach Rex Ryan said that Revis “looked fine” but refused to comment further.
The 79,088 fans in attendance were host to a marvelous offensive performance from the Jets. According to ESPN Stats & Info, New York’s 48 points are the most in a season opener since San Francisco put up 49 against Chicago in 2003.
Tim Tebow made his much-anticipated first appearance for the Jets, and was used in many different positions. The former Heisman Trophy winner lined up at wide receiver in one play, in the Wildcat formation in another, but the backup quarterback never attempted a pass for New York.
Former Jets running back Curtis Martin was honoured at halftime for his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The 39-year old played with the Jets from 1998-2005, piling up five Pro Bowl nominations, three while playing for New York. Martin won the NFL rushing title in 2004, with 1,697 yards.
Buffalo plays its home opener next Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium, hosting the Kansas City Chiefs.