After the New York Jets lost three games in a row to fall to 2-3, they had to find an identity. If any game of the 2011 season was proof that the Jets are a smash mouth team, their 27-11 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday was it.
It didn’t look pretty for lot of it, but the Jets took over in the second half and dominated on defense the entire way, improving to 5-3 and setting up a showdown with the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football next week, perhaps for first place in the AFC East. The Bills (5-3), who averaged over 30 points a game coming into today, were held to just 11 points by a Jets defense that also caused three turnovers. The Jets ran the ball effectively and quarterback Mark Sanchez was good outside of a few early blunders.
The Jets led just 3-0 at halftime after a penalty and turnover-filled half. New York controlled time of possession, but a few costly turnovers by Sanchez kept the game close. On its first possession, New York drove the ball all the way from their own six yard line deep into the Bills’ red zone. However, Sanchez was intercepted by Jairus Byrd in the end zone, and the Jets came away empty.
New York continued to play solid defense, befuddling Fitzpatrick and bottling up Jackson. New York intercepted Fitzpatrick twice late in the half, one by Calvin Pace and another by David Harris. But the Jets couldn’t turn their dominant defense into points, as Sanchez turned the ball over himself, fumbling a shotgun snap late in the half. The teams entered the locker room separated by just three points.
Nick Folk converted another field goal early in the third quarter to improve the Jets’ lead to 6-0. The Jets then forced their biggest turnover of the day, as former Bill Jim Leonhard recovered a Fred Jackson fumble that was forced by Sione Pouha. The Jets scored on the ensuing possession on Ladianian Tomlinson’s 1-yard touchdown to go up 13-0.
After a Santonio Holmes touchdown reception late in the third quarter, the Jets defense sealed the deal when they stopped Jackson on a fourth-and-1 play deep in their own territory. The Bills were turned over on downs, and New York marched down the field for an insurance touchdown, a 1-yarder by John Conner.
Sanchez finished 20-of-28 for 230 yards with a touchdown and interception, and Shonn Greene led a balanced rushing attack with 76 yards. Plaxico Burress has his best overall game as a Jet, catching five passes for 79 yards. Holmes was instrumental as well, drawing two big pass interference calls on top of his touchdown score. The Jets held Fitzpatrick to 191 yards on 15-of-31 passing with a touchdown and two interceptions, good for a quarterback rating of just 51.9.
New York has now won thee straight, and will host New England next Sunday in another crucial AFC East clash.
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