Bend But No Break:
Jets TE's Chris Baker and Sean Ryan celebrate after Baker's second quarter TD against Buffalo.
Despite giving up over 450 yards of offense to the Bills, the Jets took advantage of three Buffalo turnovers and pulled out a 28-20 win at a windy hostile Ralph Wilson Stadium.
While Buffalo Bills’ stars quarterback J.P. Losman and running back Willis McGahee had outstanding games on Sunday, it was the Jets managed to plant their flag in a windswept Ralph Wilson Stadium and emerge with a 28-20 victory. Gang Green staved off a late comeback and overcame 150 rushing yards from McGahee and 328 passing yards from the young Losman to hang on for the their second victory.
Some questions were answered for the Jets as early as 90 minutes before kickoff, as the team announced its inactive players for Week 3. Fortunately, quarterback Chad Pennington and top wide receiver Laveranues Coles were both ready to go at game time. On the other hand, veteran offensive linemen Pete Kendall and Trey Teague, who were listed as questionable and doubtful, respectively, throughout the week, were both inactive. Also inactive was veteran tailback Derrick Blaylock, as second-year power-back Cedric Houston suited up for the first time this season. Also crucial was the fact that Buffalo’s pro bowl linebacker Takeo Spikes was inactive with a hamstring injury.
After kickoff, the Jets were introduced to the most exciting wrinkle in Buffalo’s, wide receiver Roscoe Parrish. Parrish took a pass from quarterback J.P. Losman and sprinted about 40-yards down the middle of the field between the Jets secondary for a 51-yard touchdown strike on the game’s second play from scrimmage.
While the Jets again failed to score in the first quarter, their 17th straight game without a touchdown in the opening period, Gang Green answered back in the second quarter. After a huge fourth down stop by safety Eric Coleman, the Jets marched 74 yards on seven plays to tie the score at seven. The highlight of the drive was a 47 yard pass to rookie running back Leon Washington which set up a three yard touchdown run by halfback Kevan Barlow.
“We caught them in a blitz,” Washington said of his catch. “It was a great call by (offensive coordinator) Brian Schottenheimer and we executed it well.”
The Bills quickly drove downfield for a field goal but Pennington showed his smarts and his leadership to lead the Jets to their second touchdown of the quarter. Operating in the no-huddle offense with just 2:43 remaining in the first half, the Green and White used a 10-play drive that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown pass from Pennington to tight end Chris Baker to go into the locker room with a 14-10 halftime lead.
The Jets were able to bring some heat on defense when they came back out to the field. Safety Kerry Rhodes came on a blitz and forced Losman to fumble. Linebacker Victor Hobson then scooped up the ball and scampered 32 yards (although he appeared to step out of bounds at the three) for the touchdown.
“I was able to get free and when I’m able to come clean I’m not just going for the sack I’m going for the ball,” Rhodes, who forced two fumbles, said. “I was a little nervous because Victor’s pretty slow but he got there and it was a big play for us.”
The Jets defense would remain staunch for the rest of the game. Gang Green bent, but refused to break, as the second half saw two Bills turnovers and several big plays from the Jets defense.
The Bills did manage to penetrate into the red zone in the middle of the fourth quarter, the Jets made a strong stand inside the 5-yard line. The big play came from veteran defensive lineman Bobby Hamilton, who sacked Losman on a bootleg 3rd and goal play the seemed to fool the rest of the defense. The sack forced the home team to settle for a field goal, closing the deficit to 21-13.
“Bobby has made a lot of big plays on goal-line at the difference places he’s been here,” Mangini said of the play. “He’s disciplined in his approach, it’s easy to go for the run fake there but good poise and discipline on his part to run him down and sack him there.”
On the ensuing possession the Pennington and the Jets put the Bills on the ropes. The drive appeared to be doomed as the Jets faced a 4th and 1 around Buffalo’s 35-yard line. This would turn out to be a key play in the game. Head coach Eric Mangini made a gutty call to go for it. The offense lined up in a tight formation with one wide receiver, Jerricho Cotchery, two tight ends, and Barlow behind fullback B.J. Askew in the backfield. Pennington waived his arms and Cotchery spread wide along with Askew and the two tight ends, leaving Barlow alone in the backfield with four men spread wide. It appeared a pass was in the works but number 10 called his own number as Pennington ran a QB sneak up the middle for the conversion and then some. The drive continued and ultimately ended with a five yard touchdown run by Houston.
“I felt like we needed to be aggressive and there was a crease there for us to get the yardage,” Pennington said of his run. “I have faith in those guys upfront and they just pushed the pile and I just rolled over there.”
The Bills mustered a touchdown drive inside the two minute warning, trimming the Jets lead to eight. They then recovered an onside kick that was touched by Jets linebacker Matt Chatham to put some pressure on the Jets defense. The Jets were up to the task as they did not even allow the Bills to get a first down. After an incomplete pass on 4th and three and a kneel down by Pennington, the Jets now stand at 2-1 after Week 3. Rhodes summed up the day perfectly.
“They got a lot of yards but we made the stops we needed to make.”
-Washington, a fourth round pick in April’s draft, stepped up to play a big role in Sunday’s game. Aside from the big reception, Washington also ran for 25 yards on 7 carries. This was a surprise as it was Houston, more of a bruising back, who was expected to see some touches rather than the little scat-back out of Florida State. Houston had just two carries but did manage 10 yards and a touchdown.
“We’re committed to playing the guys that give us the best chance to win each week,” Mangini said of Washington’s playing time.
-The Jets were not impressive as the Bills in individual statistics but made big plays in important spots and did not turn the ball over at all on offense. Pennington was just 19 for 28 for 183 yards and one touchdown, Coles was the leading receiver with an impressive 10 receptions but a lackluster 78 yards, and the Jets leading rusher was Barlow, who had just 31 yards on 12 carries. Still, the only numbers that matter to Mangini and his team are the 28 to 20 on the scoreboard.
-Punter Ben Graham had a huge game Sunday after he struggled in Week 2 against New England. Graham punted 7 times, often against a nasty wind in Buffalo, for an impressive average of 48.3 yards per punt. He also pinned the Bills inside their own 20-yard line four times.
The team returns to New York this afternoon and Coach Eric Mangini will address the media tomorrow. Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com for all the latest NY Jets news!