Here are seven notes and observations from Week 1 in the AFC East :
There was an “I told you so” attitude with the New York Jets after their 48-28 blowout of the Buffalo Bills Sunday. Not only did the Jets (1-0) prove a lot of skeptics wrong in Week 1, but they did it against a Buffalo (0-1) team that received a lot of good press and offseason hype. It’s only one game, but the big question now is, “How good is New York?” The Jets were picked by many to be a third-place team in the AFC East and to finish around .500 this year. But they look dangerous when playing complementary football. It was a complete performance by the Jets Sunday where the offense fed off the defense, which also fed off special teams. If this is the type of Jets team we will see consistently, then perhaps the Jets are better than most thought. We could have a better indication of where New York stands next week when the Jets travel to play the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1).
Also, the Jets’ receiving corps deserves a lot of credit for its production. Santonio Holmes, rookie Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley consistently schooled Buffalo’s young cornerbacks. The Jets had receivers running free regularly on Sunday, even during incompletions. New York quarterback Mark Sanchez did a good job taking care of the football and taking chances deep at the right time. Holmes, Hill and Kerley all had at least four receptions. “It was a great performance by us,” Holmes said. “The game plan went really smooth this week. Guys were paying attention to details. Everything just felt great and we put on a show.” Mario WilliamsKellen Micah/ICON SMIMario Williams, right, took issue with the way Austin Howard pass blocked on Sunday.
How did Jets' unknown offensive tackle Austin Howard keep Bills Pro Bowl defensive end Mario Williams at bay? According to Williams, Howard cheated. “Pass blocking doesn’t consist of using your hands to the face on every play,” Williams said afterwards. Howard, with some help, pitched a shutout against Williams, who was held to just one tackle with zero sacks and one quarterback pressure. Williams made a point to say Howard illegally and consistently used hands to the face as his primary method. According to Williams, he told the replacement officials on several occasions. “You don’t listen or even call it one time out of the 20 that were there?” a frustrated Williams said. “That’s really disheartening for everyone.” Jets head coach Rex Ryan had a different take. “Austin Howard played a tremendous game,” Ryan said. “Maybe he made a name for himself today.
The Pittsburgh Steelers placed rookie guard David DeCastro on injured reserve with a designation to return.DeCastro, who suffered a knee injury in the third preseason game at Buffalo, will be eligible to return after spending at least eight weeks on IR.
The Steelers selected the Stanford product with the 24th overall pick in April's draft.To fill the roster spot, the Steelers signed cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke to a one-year contract.
After a Worrisome August, the Jets Come Alive in Their First Real Game, Burying the Buffalo Bills
It will end up as a long-forgotten moment of imperfection in an otherwise marvelous afternoon for Mark Sanchez, a 48-28 Jets victory Sunday over the Buffalo Bills that was as dominating as it was stunning. But it does bear mentioning: Everything could have fallen apart for him in the first quarter.As he scrambled to his left seven plays into the Jets' first offensive possession, Sanchez attempted an ill-advised, backhanded shovel pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland. Bills linebacker Bryan Scott intercepted it, and Sanchez returned to the sideline frustrated at himself for making such a reckless decision.
"That," he said, "was stupid."
The interception also represented the sum of his mistakes in Week 1 at MetLife Stadium.For all the speculation over how Sanchez, the Jets and their fan base would react once he erred in a meaningful game—that is, how long would it take for someone to suggest Tim Tebow should replace him—his performance represented an emphatic rebuke.Sanchez threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns, completing 19 of his 27 pass attempts as the Jets set a franchise record for points in a season opener—a statistic made all the more improbable by the failure of their first-team offense to score a touchdown in their four preseason games.The Jets had taken care during training camp to preserve the element of surprise in their game plan, especially because of Tebow's presence and their plan to reintroduce the Wildcat formation into their offense. They kept their play-calling for each preseason game as bland as possible, and they limited media access at practice whenever they worked on the Wildcat so as not to reveal how they might use Tebow.
The obvious price of such an approach—and of the anemic showing in the preseason—was that it raised questions about just how competent the Jets' conventional offense would be once the regular season began. On Sunday, though, Tebow's most vital contribution was his recovery of an onside kick in the fourth quarter.On the nine offensive snaps Tebow played—eight in either a Wildcat or read-option alignment, one in which he lined up as a slot receiver—the Jets gained a total of 21 yards. They were far more productive when Sanchez was running things.In the first half, he completed eight of his nine third-down passes. Six of those completions led to Jets first downs, and one was a 12-yard touchdown to wideout Jeremy Kerley for the game's first score. Perhaps most important, despite a matchup that seemed to favor Buffalo heavily—All-Pro defensive end Mario Williams against callow right tackle Austin Howard—the Bills never sacked Sanchez.
"When Mark has time to throw the ball," Jets coach Rex Ryan said, "he can throw it with anybody."
NFL OPENING SUNDAY: New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, right, and backup Tim Tebow celebrate a Sanchez scoring pass as the Jets beat Buffalo, 48-28; Tebow carried the ball five times for 11 yards.
Kerley added a 68-yard punt-return touchdown in the second quarter, and in building a 41-7 lead by the midpoint of the third quarter, the Jets took time to revel in their rout: When he toted an interception by Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick 42 yards for a touchdown, cornerback Antonio Cromartie performed a forward flip as he crossed the goal line.If anything, the Jets were much sloppier on defense than they were on offense, permitting Buffalo to score three consecutive touchdowns in the second half and pull within 13 points with under six minutes left in regulation.But on the Jets' ensuing possession, running back Shonn Greene (27 carries, 94 yards) punctuated a 49-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run—after Sanchez found wide receiver Santonio Holmes for an important 25-yard completion.Afterward, Sanchez said Mark Brunell, formerly the Jets' backup quarterback, once advised him always to take a few minutes at his locker to savor a victory, to enjoy what he had accomplished. So he did.
"There's a difference between that," Sanchez said, "and saying, 'I told you so.'"Had he wanted to crow, of course, he could have pointed to a sequence in the second quarter. With the Jets already ahead by two touchdowns, Tebow took a snap and tried to burrow through the Bills' defensive line. He went nowhere, and as Tebow jogged off the field, a sound descended from the stands that Mark Sanchez didn't hear once Sunday: boos.
Introducing the 2012 "Sanchez-Fitzpatrick-Tannehill watch." This is the annual battle in the AFC East to determine the No. 2 quarterback behind Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. It was a crazy race in 2011. Last year’s winner, Matt Moore, is now a backup in Miami.Now we need a new champion to hold the seat warm behind a future Hall of Fame. We will be keeping score throughout the 2012 season.
Here are our grades for Week 1 :
~ ~ Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
Result : W, 48-28
Stats : 19-27, 266 yards, three TDs, one INT
QBR : 97.1
Analysis : This was as good as I’ve seen Sanchez play. He was in control, aggressive and took shots down the field at the right time. Sanchez also was not bothered by the Jets’ constant in and out with Tim Tebow and the Wildcat. Sanchez stayed hot throughout, which is exactly what Rex Ryan and the rest of the coaching staff wants. The Jets need this level of play from Sanchez all year to be a contender. It was a great performance overall from the fourth-year quarterback.