Monday, October 4, 2010

Jets win over Bills cements them as best in AFC East

The New York Jets did what the Dolphins and Patriots could not: blow out the lowly Buffalo Bills. Sure, both New England and Miami beat Buffalo, but the Jets dominated them like an elite team should, winning 38-14 in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The Jets outgained the Bills 444-223 and were able to bench their starters for most of the 4th quarter with the game out of reach. Save for a disappointing drive at the end of the first half, when Buffalo went right down the field in the two-minute drill to score a touchdown, the Jets' defense smothered the Bills' offense. Buffalo did not convert a single third-down all game long, finishing 0-10, and the Jets held the ball for over two-thirds of the game, as predicted Saturday.

The Jets dominated the line of scrimmage. Defensively, Ryan Fitzpatrick was under a ton of pressure all game long. Offensively, LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene had massive holes to run through all game long, and Mark Sanchez was kept upright all game long.

But it was Tomlinson who stole the show. It's amazing the difference an offensive line can make. Tomlinson looked like his old self, finishing with his first 100-yard effort in 26 games. Tomlinson showed the speed, cutting ability, and vision that made him an elite runningback for so long, finishing with 133 yards and two touchdowns. Greene also finished with over 100 yards on the ground.

Mark Sanchez didn't need to do much in this game, but for the fourth consecutive game, he did not turn the ball over once. He finished 14-24 for 161 yards and two touchdowns, one to Dustin Keller and one to Braylon Edwards. Keller finished with two touchdowns on the game, as Brad Smith came out of the TigerCat formation at the goalline, finding a leaping Keller in the back of the endzone for his first score.

It's hard to take too much out of this game because the Bills were terrible. But elite teams should dominate bad teams, and that's exactly what the Jets did. Both Miami and New England beat the Bills, but not the way the Jets did. Miami struggled offensively in week one, only winning 15-10. Last week, the Patriots put up 38 in Buffalo, just like the Jets did. But New England was at home, and they allowed 30 points.

Instead, this game was never in doubt, and now the Jets sit at 3-0 in the division. Rex Ryan has stressed the importance of divisional games this season after the Jets went just 2-4 last year, and it's paid off. They will be in a tie for first after tonight's Miami-New England Monday night game while holding the tiebreaker for the division.

A few final notes:

*Shaun Ellis gave the Jets a scare when he left the game clutching his knee. However, it appears only to be a sprain, and Ryan expects him to be fine going forward.

*Joe McKnight got his first NFL action, gaining 12 yards on 4 carries. Not great, but everyone in the stadium knew the Jets were running at that point, and at least he didn't fumble!

*Fellow rookie Kyle Wilson wasn't so great. Demoted in favor of Drew Coleman heading into the week, Wilson was burned for the Bills' second touchdown as he bit on a double-move by the immortal Steve Johnson. He's only a rookie, so he will get better, but the Jets can't get Darrelle Revis back soon enough.

*Speaking of Revis, there's a chance he plays Monday night against Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings. The extra day will give him and Calvin Pace an extra day to rest. Pace is closer to returning to game action, but Revis is right behind him. The Jets just want to make sure Revis is 100% before returning because they can ill-afford an injury that prevents him from playing in more important games.

*Santonio Holmes returns on Monday to Jets' practice. While the passing game has been doing just fine without him, adding a former Super Bowl MVP in the middle of his prime can't hurt, can it? This team is scary.

*While I'm happy with the win, I wasn't too pleased with Brian Schottenheimer's goalline play calling. For a team that relies on its offensive line to overpower opponents, I couldn't understand why they didn't just line up in goalline and smash the ball into the endzone. Schottenheimer instead returned to the "Cutesy" moniker that many Jets fans derogatively call him. Sure, Brad Smith's pass ended up as a touchdown. But did the Jets really need to run that risk? Just run it down their throats.

*The one other place the Jets' defense looked vulnerable was against mobile quarterbacks. Fitzpatrick ran for 74 yards on 7 carries. The Jets blitzed early and often, and Fitzpatrick responded by taking what the defense gave him and picking up yards scrambling. Fortunately, the Jets aren't really facing any other mobile quarterbacks this season, save perhaps Seneca Wallace, so this probably won't matter much.