ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- LaDainian Tomlinson brought the Jets together for his usual fiery pregame speech, trying to get them even more pumped up for their huge AFC East showdown Sunday.
He essentially screamed that even though Buffalo was ahead of the Jets in the standings, they were about to square off with the "same old Bills."
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"The team we are, we felt like our matchup against them has always been a problem," he said later. "Our style of football versus their style of football has always been a problem. That's why we say, 'Same Bills.' This is the same team we've beat over and over. So don't get it twisted by their record. If we play our type of football, they won't be able to beat us."
Tomlinson's words couldn't have been more prophetic.
Shaking off a sluggish start, the Jets scored 17 points in less than seven minutes in the third quarter and mauled the Bills, 27-11, at Ralph Wilson Stadium in a game they thoroughly dominated.
Buffalo scored its lone touchdown with 3:14 remaining after the Jets built a 24-point lead.
The victory, coupled with New England's last-minute loss to the Giants on Sunday, puts the Jets in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC East with the Bills and Patriots at 5-3. That sets up a highly anticipated matchup with the Patriots at MetLife Stadium on Sunday night.
"Our goal is set," said Rex Ryan, whose team has won three straight and now is 1-3 on the road. "We want to win our division and we know how tough it is. But to do that, we had to come here and get a win against a good football team. We've got a huge, huge game coming up this week. But we are not lying to the fact that if you want to win our division, you've got to beat New England. We know how it's much easier said than done, but we are just the guys for the job, and we hope to prove it next week."
The Jets showed Buffalo -- which was wearing all-white uniforms at home for the first time since 1986 and handed out white pompons to try to create a white-out effect -- a few things. They completely bottled up the offense, surrendering only 151 yards before taking a 20-3 lead on Santonio Holmes' 8-yard touchdown reception with 3:27 left in the third quarter. They intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick twice and limited Buffalo's top weapon, Fred Jackson, to 82 yards on 18 carries.
They actually could've put this one away a lot earlier if not for their sloppy first half. The Jets totaled 191 first-half yards to Buffalo's 73 but held only a 3-0 halftime lead, in part because of Nick Folk's missed 50-yard field goal and Mark Sanchez's two mistakes with the Jets threatening to score.
The third-year quarterback threw an interception in the end zone on second-and-goal from the Bills' 7 to halt an 87-yard drive on the Jets' first series of the game and lost a fumbled snap at the Jets' 46 just before the half.
"I thought we sustained a couple of really good drives, then we just gave it away at the end," Sanchez said. "Just got to be better in the red zone, can't throw picks like that. It's no good and it will get you beat. But I'm just proud of the way the guys battled and persevered through a tough first half."
The Jets simply mashed Buffalo for the better part of the second half, riding Tomlinson's 1-yard scoring run (after a 19-yard reception by Plaxico Burress that put the ball at the 1), Holmes' fourth touchdown of the season and John Conner's 1-yard touchdown run to take a 27-3 lead with 6:27 to play. It was all working so well that Tomlinson & Co. started thinking about their date with the Patriots on Sunday night, a game oozing with implications.
"I'll tell you what, it's right there in front of us," Tomlinson said. "If this is our time to take over and win the AFC East, this is the time to do it. This is the week that it has to happen. We have a chance to put them at two losses in the division and we'll control our own destiny.
"If you can't get fired up and ready to play this game," he continued, slapping the back of one hand into the other for emphasis, "then you shouldn't be playing. Plain and simple. That's where we are."