ORCHARD PARK, NY ( buffalobills.com ) The marquee matchup was the Bills offense against the Jets defense in a key AFC East clash at Ralph Wilson Stadium Sunday. That battle was clearly won by the visitors as New York’s defense forced three turnovers and kept one of the league’s highest-scoring offenses in neutral in a convincing and pivotal 27-11 victory.
Both defenses carried the play for most of the first half as both units recorded takeaways.
The Jets offense had a long, methodical drive as their possession took up most of the first quarter after Buffalo’s three-and-out to start the game. But on a 2nd-and-goal from the seven Mark Sanchez overthrew Dustin Keller and Jairus Byrd intercepted the pass in the back of the end zone taking it out to the Buffalo 21.
The Bills offense couldn’t capitalize however, with their drive stalling just beyond midfield.
The game remained scoreless until the latter stages of the second quarter, when the Jets marched 44 on 10 plays. On 3rd-and-8 at the Bills 31, a Mark Sanchez pass over the middle was tipped by Dwan Edwards and appeared to be intercepted by George Wilson, but it was overturned on replay review. That call gave the Jets a 49-yard field goal and Nick Folk put it up and through for the first points of the game with 2:55 left in the second quarter (3-0).
Ryan Fitzpatrick then threw a pair of interceptions on consecutive possessions. The Bills were fortunate in both instances. On the first turnover, New York moved into field goal range, but Folk pushed a 50-yard attempt wide right. On the second turnover, Mark Sanchez gave it right back to the Bills on a fumbled shotgun snap, which was recovered by Marcell Dareus.
Again however, Buffalo’s offense remained in neutral as they went scoreless in the first half for the first time this season as the Jets took a field goal lead to the locker room (3-0).
The Jets were handed a pair of short fields early in the second half on a 59-yard kick return by Joe McKnight to start the half to set up the Jets at the Buffalo 45, but they went three-and-out. After the Bills went three-and-out themselves, a 15-yard punt return by Jeremy Kerley gave the Jets possession at the Bills 40-yard line. After gaining just eight yards the Jets settled for a 50-yard field goal to make it 6-0.
On the Bills next possession Fred Jackson fumbled at his own 23 and the Jets recovered. Three plays later LaDainian Tomlinson had a one-yard touchdown run to put New York ahead 13-0 with 8:34 left in the third.
Buffalo finally put points on the board on their ensuing possession. On a 3rd-and-5 Stevie Johnson got behind Darrelle Revis for a 52-yard catch and run down to the Jets’ 23-yard line. After an 11-yard catch by Scott Chandler set up a 1st-and-10 at the Jets 12, the Bills couldn’t find the end zone and took a 24-yard Rian Lindell field goal instead to pull Buffalo to within 10 (13-3).
New York came right back and after getting consecutive first downs on passes to Dustin Keller and Plaxico Burress, the Jets were the beneficiary of a questionable pass interference call that gave them a 1st-and-goal opportunity at the Bills eight-yard line. Santonio Holmes would make a difficult catch on a post pattern to make it 20-3 Jets with 3:27 left in the third.
Come the fourth quarter the Bills threatened to score early, but facing a 4th-and-inches the Jets defensive line collapsed down on Fred Jackson stopping for no gain and a turnover on downs.
New York then pounded out yards on the ground to shorten the game running almost minutes off the clock before another pass interference penalty gave the Jets a first-and-goal situation at the Bills one-yard line. Fullback John Conner took it in from a yard out for the touchdown with six minutes remaining.
The Bills finally found the end zone with just over three minutes remaining after a 10-play 80-yard drive was capped by a seven-yard pass from Fitzpatrick to David Nelson. Fitzpatrick then scrambled for a two-point conversion to make it 27-11.
Buffalo fell into a second place tie in the AFC East with the Jets at 5-3. They now begin a three-week road trip, which takes them to Dallas next Sunday to face the Cowboys.