Mark Sanchez throws 3 TD passes as Jets dominate
GalleriesWeek 1: Jets 48, Bills 28
Mark Sanchez took the time to savor the moment.
In years past, he had been so quick to turn the page on a lopsided victory or a gutsy performance. But on Sunday, the Jets' fourth-year quarterback heeded the advice of his former backup Mark Brunell, who used to implore him to relish the rare moments when everything works according to plan on game day.
After a disappointing preseason, the Jets came out firing on offense -- and defense -- at MetLife Stadium en route to a 48-28 spanking of the Bills in their season opener.
The Jets broke out of their offensive slump just as Rex Ryan had predicted, but it had nothing to do with Tim Tebow or the Wildcat. Instead, the defense jump-started things with two quick interceptions before two touchdowns apiece from Jeremy Kerley and rookie Stephen Hill put the finishing touches on Buffalo.
Save for an interception on the Jets' first drive, Sanchez was stellar. He completed 19 of 27 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns and wasn't sacked.
It was the Jets' highest point total for an opener, and the most they've scored since putting up 56 on Arizona in 2008. In one afternoon, Ryan's team managed to score more points than it did during the entire preseason (31 points).
The Jets came up with three interceptions of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Kyle Wilson picked him off on consecutive first-quarter possessions as the Jets built a 27-7 halftime lead. Only 1:19 into the third quarter, cornerback Antonio Cromartie, the self-titled second-best Jets receiver, intercepted an underthrown pass, scampered 40 yards and flipped into the end zone to make it 34-7.
The Bills pulled to within 41-28 on a 29-yard touchdown reception by Stevie Johnson with 5:58 left in the fourth, but it was much too late for Buffalo.
With so many questions heading into the season, this AFC East matchup was about as crucial an opening-day game as any team could have. And although the drubbing might not have been vindication for Ryan, some of his players said otherwise.
"A little bit," linebacker Calvin Pace said. "Some things were said about us that we didn't particularly like. Everybody's entitled to their opinion. Our job is to prove some of the naysayers wrong. And I think we did a great job of that today."
This past week, Ryan and owner Woody Johnson felt compelled to denounce the "circus" label that, in their minds, had been unfairly attached to their franchise by the media. Even with an impressive win under his belt, Bart Scott still was frustrated. The linebacker refused to address reporters at his locker, but he got his message across nonetheless.
"You're all going to screw us next week or the week after," he chirped at the media as he wheeled his suitcase behind him toward the locker room door. "You're all going to get us eventually."
The debut of Tebow and the Jets' highly guarded Wildcat were the talk of the town heading into the game. But the formation fell flat as Tebow finished with only 11 yards on five carries (the longest of which was 4 yards).
He started the game with the first-string offense, lining up in the slot. Three plays later, the Jets unveiled the Wildcat with Tebow in the shotgun. After a direct snap, he handed the ball to running back Joe McKnight for a 3-yard gain.
Tebow, whose overall performance was rather underwhelming, even elicited some boos from the crowd when he was stopped for no gain on second-and-6 at Buffalo's 12-yard line.
But truth be told, the Jets didn't need him. Shonn Greene quietly churned out 94 yards (27 carries) and a touchdown, and Hill and Kerley shouldered the scoring load.
Though Ryan said his team expected to defend its home field, Sanchez later said: "Did I know it was [going to be] 48 points? No, I didn't necessarily know that."
Neither did the Jets' defense.
"I'm going to be honest, I didn't really know what to think," Pace said of his expectations for the offense. "I guess they did such a good job of being vanilla in the preseason, they just came out hitting on all cylinders today."
So it was Sanchez's turn to implore his teammates to enjoy the fruits of their labor -- at least for a little while. Just like Brunell used to do.
"I told the guys in the locker room, 'Remember this,' " Sanchez said, " 'because it took a lot of work to get here. So just don't throw it out the window.' "