ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 06: Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets throws a pass against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 6, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
The New York Jets open up their season on Sunday in a battle with one of their oldest rivals, the Buffalo Bills. Technically, the Bills are the oldest rival -- the first game each franchise played was between these two teams, back in the debut season of the AFL, in 1960. On Friday, Sept. 9, 1960, the league's first-ever game was played, when the Denver Broncos defeated the Boston Patriots. The following afternoon, the Los Angeles Chargers beat the Dallas Texans (later to be known as the Kansas City Chiefs), 21-20. And on Sunday, the 11th, it was the Jets' turn to play. Or, the Titans, as they were originally called.
The game was played in a rainy Polo Grounds. Buffalo got on the scoreboard first, when Darrell Harper booted a 35-yard field goal in the first quarter. Those would be the only points the Bills would score that afternoon, though. The first-ever points for the Jet franchise came in the second quarter, on a Bill Shockley 15-yard field goal. Besides those three points, the Titans had trouble generating offense, so coach Sammy Baugh replaced starting quarterback Dick Jamieson with 30-year-old veteran Al Dorow, who had previously played for the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles, along with serving a stint in the Canadian Football League. Foreshadowing this year's Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow combination, Jamieson and Dorow both played in the majority of the Titans' games that season, and the Tebow-like Dorow led the team in rushing that year, with 453 yards. He also led the AFL in touchdown passes in 1960, with 26 (and he would lead the league the next year in completions, attempts and interceptions). He would be traded to Buffalo in '62 but retired soon after due to an arm injury.
Still in the second quarter, the Titans began their first touchdown drive on Buffalo's 43-yard line, after a Bills punt. The big play of the drive was a 20-yard reception by Hall of Famer Don Maynard. New York got down to the two-yard line, and Dorow took the ball into the end zone himself, following a block around the left end by Maynard. Dorow also scored the second touchdown of the day for the Titans, with a 15-yard run before halftime. In the third quarter, Shockley put another one through the uprights, and the Titans finished the scoring in the final quarter when First-Team All-Pro Art Powell hauled in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Jamieson. The final score: Titans 27, Bills 3.
Dorow went 6-for-12 in the game throwing for 74 yards, with one interception. He also ran for 31 yards. Jamieson went 9-for-18, for 152 yards. Maynard caught four passes, for 116 yards. Pete Hart led the team in rushing, with 66 yards. Super Bowl winner Bill Mathis made his debut, gaining nine yards on three carries. And Roger Donnahoo and Dick Felt both intercepted a pass for the Titans. The Bills also utilized a pair of quarterbacks, but Bob Brodhead and Tommy O'Connell went a combined 5-for-23 for 52 yards (Brodhead led the Bills in rushing with 42 yards that game). The Titans outrushed the Bills 164 yards to 74.
The Titans finished the season with a 7-7 record. They led the AFL in scoring, averaging 27.3 points per game. But like their record showed, they evened things out by ranking last in defense, giving up 28.5 points per game. The Bills finished with a 5-8-1 mark, and would lose once again to the Titans, 17-13, in Week 5.