Aside from an errant shovel pass on the Jets first offensive possession, Mark Sanchez was nothing short of spectacular on Sunday. The fourth-year gunslinger played with the poise and confidence of a proven veteran. New York's offensive line was superb, not surrendering a sack or quarterback hit, in an all-around stellar performance.
It wasn't a jaw-dropping debut for Wildcat quarterback Tim Tebow, but the Jets moved the ball efficiently on the ground and grew stronger as the game wore on. Running back Shonn Greened finished the day with 97 yards on 27 carries in what was a workman-like performance for the fourth-year pro. Tebow and company will need to produce more explosive plays in the running game if they hope to keep the Jets offense rolling.
After baffling Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to the tune of a 41-7 third-quarter lead, the Jets let their foot off the gas pedal late and allowed Buffalo to score three consecutive TD's. New York was brilliant in forcing mistakes, particularly early on with cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie, Darrelle Revis and Kyle Wilson all registering interceptions. Safety LaRon Landry forced a fumble of C.J. Spiller as Gang Green produced 24 points off of four costly Bills' turnovers.
Fireman Ed firing up the Jets faithful
With everything seemingly going their way, the Jets struggled mightily to contain running back C.J. Spiller who amassed 168 yards on 14 carries including a 56-yard scamper to get Buffalo on the scoreboard in the first quarter. The Bills star running back Fred Jackson left with a knee sprain following a hard hit from Landry, but Spiller devastated New York's defensive front with elusive moves in the open field producing a whopping 12.1 yards per carry average.
Mike Westhoff was one happy camper on Sunday as his placekicker Nick Folk connected on both of his field goal attempts and new punter Robert Malone boomed two punts for an average of 51.5 yards, with one downed inside the 20-yard line. Punt returner Jeremy Kerley provided second-quarter fireworks with his 68-yard run back, marking the first punt return by a Jet since 2002 and the longest in franchise history.
Rex Ryan and his staff answered the bell with an outstanding gameplan, shocking the Bills and the football world at large with a resounding victory on opening Sunday. While the Jets win is only their first of the year, they made an early season statement that they're not a circus-type organization, but one driven to contend for the postseason.
Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for Greenandwhitereport.com
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