After a less-than-stellar, 0-4 preseason, expectations were low for the New York Jets' offense coming into their first game. However, the team backed up what it had been saying all along -- that the regular-season offense was going to look different than the one it ran in the preseason. It did in a 48-28 victory over the Bills on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
The “ground and pound” still hasn't kicked in, but the wildcat finally made its debut, although it was somewhat anemic. The most it gained was four yards. In total, Tim Tebow got five direct snaps and gained 11 yards.
However, QB Mark Sanchez looked sharp. He finished the game 19 of 27 for 266 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
The Jets' defense performed well with three interceptions -- one each from CB Antonio Cromartie, CB Darrelle Revis and CB Kyle Wilson. Cromartie scored a touchdown on his.
On the other side, the Bills' defense was disorganized with their young, rookie cornerbacks no match for Sanchez. Bills DE Mario Williams was rendered almost ineffective (one tackle) by Jets RT Austin Howard in his first true test as a starter.
Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled in the passing game and spent a good part of his day running from the Jets defense (although he was not sacked). He ended the day 18 of 32 for 195 yards with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. The Bills running game was more effective with RB C.J. Spiller rushing for 169 yards and a touchdown. (Fred Jackson sustained a knee injury and logged only 15 yards).
When the game turned: The Jets had the game in their pocket pretty much right out of the gate. With 6:07 left in the first quarter, Sanchez threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to WR Jeremy Kerley and they never looked back.
Highlight moments: Each and every touchdown was a highlight after the Jets went four preseason games with only one touchdown, and that was scored by the backup unit. Cromartie's pick-six and Kerley's punt-return touchdown were certainly two of the more exciting moments.
Top-shelf performances: Kerley had an outstanding day with one receiving touchdown and one punt return touchdown -- the first time in Jets history a player accomplished that. The punt return for a touchdown was also the first by the Jets since 2004, when WR Santana Moss scored one in a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. ... Rookie WR Stephen Hill, a second-round pick, also quieted critics who were on him after a slow preseason. Hill finished the game with five receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
What they said about the wildcat:
• Sanchez -- “We've got plenty more in our grab bag of wildcat.”
• Jets coach Rex Ryan -- “[The Bills] did a nice job against the wildcat. Certainly, we can do a lot more of it as well.”
• Tebow -- "We were able to get in there and have some efficient plays. Obviously, we would like to break one open (for a touchdown), but I think it will continue to develop.”
Numbers you should know: Despite the disparity in the final score, many stats were similar. Time of possession: Bills 28:42, Jets 31:18. Penalties: Bills 6-34, Jets 5-34. Total first downs: Bills 40, Jets 42. Third down conversions: Bills 6-9-67 percent, Jets 10-14-71 percent.
Injury update: Jets -- Revis has a head injury. WR Patrick Turner pulled a hamstring. LB Bryan Thomas pulled a hamstring. FB John Conner “tweaked” his knee. There's no clear status on any of them. Bills: Jackson left with a knee injury as did WR David Nelson. Word from the Bills is that Nelson's injury is worse than Jackson's, but there were no other specifics.
Going forward: The Jets are on the road for the next three weeks so this win, especially against a division rival, was an important one. In Week 2, the Jets will be at Pittsburgh before traveling to rival Miami and San Francisco. The Bills will host Kansas City in Week 2. Then Buffalo goes on the road to face Cleveland before returning home to take on division rival New England.