Sanchez, Burress help Jets get past Bills 28-24

Plaxico Burress reached up for the floating football with his

right arm, spun and somehow came down with it for a first down.

It was an eye-popping fourth-quarter grab that helped the New

York Jets come back and beat the Buffalo Bills 28-24 on Sunday. It

also might have saved their season.

”I don’t know if words could do it any justice,” quarterback

Mark Sanchez said. ”It was a big-time catch in a crucial


No doubt about it. With several Jets saying they needed to win

each of their last six games to reach the postseason, New York got

the first one – barely. Five more to go.

”We’ll take it,” coach Rex Ryan said. ”Wow.”

Sanchez threw a career-high four touchdown passes, including the

winning 16-yard score to Santonio Holmes with just over a minute

remaining, as New York kept pace in the AFC playoff race.

”He’s at his best,” Ryan said of his quarterback, ”in big


This was certainly one of them.

Things appeared bleak with New York (6-5) trailing 24-21 after

Dave Rayner’s 53-yard field goal and facing a third-and-11 from the

Bills’ 36. But Sanchez connected with Burress – made fun of earlier

in the game when the Bills’ Stevie Johnson pantomimed shooting

himself in the leg during a TD celebration – for a one-handed

18-yard grab over Justin Rogers that had everyone talking after the


”It was crazy,” Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said of the

catch. ”He’s 6-foot-5 and he’s got those `Go-Go-Gadget’ arms. It

was probably one of the best catches I’ve seen in a while.”

Added Bills coach Chan Gailey: ”It was an unbelievable


On the next play, Sanchez quickly ran a quarterback sneak – just

to make sure there was no challenge, even though replays showed

Burress had a clean catch. Then, Sanchez rolled out to his right to

buy some time and found Holmes alone in the right corner of the end

zone to give the Jets the lead with 1:01 left.

”That’s who he is, he’s a stud – Sanchize,” Ryan said. ”The

first half wasn’t the best half, but we knew if we just hung in

there … we have complete faith in Mark. He’s done it


But the Jets then had to overcome a valiant comeback try by the

Bills (5-6), who have lost four straight. With Buffalo driving for

a winning score, a wide-open Johnson dropped a pass that would have

gone for a long gain. Ryan Fitzpatrick also threw behind Johnson in

the end zone with 8 seconds left that might have been a


”It’s hard,” Fitzpatrick said. ”They scored at the end and we

had a legitimate four chances to get it in there in the end zone

and unfortunately we were unable to make the plays. It hurts real


Johnson had one of the Bills’ touchdown catches late in the

first half, and there was plenty of talk about that one, too.

The Bills wide receiver celebrated his catch by pretending to

shoot himself in the thigh – clearly poking fun at Burress, who

served 20 months in prison for shooting himself in the leg in a

nightclub in 2008 while he was with the Giants. Johnson then mocked

the ”flight” celebration the Jets often use after scoring and

fell to the ground, getting flagged 15 yards for excessive

celebration on the play that gave Buffalo a 14-7 lead.

”I was just having fun and part of having fun ended up being a

penalty and a touchdown for the Jets,” Johnson said. ”It was a

stupid decision by myself.”

New York was already going to have good field position, but

Rayner flubbed a squib kick that hit off the Jets’ Emanuel Cook,

who recovered the ball at Buffalo’s 36.

The Jets moved to the 14 when Buffalo’s Marcell Dareus was hit

with a 15-yard penalty for using his helmet to make contact with

Sanchez. Three plays later, Burress caught a 14-yard touchdown pass

in the back of the end zone to tie it at 14 with 1:03 left in the

half. Burress simply bowed to the crowd and ran to the stands and

handed the ball to his son Elijah, as he always does after scoring


”I’ve seen worse, and I’ve heard worse,” Burress said of

Johnson’s antics. ”So, it doesn’t bother me at all. The result I’m

looking at is we won the football game, and he turned around and

dropped three wide-open balls to lose it for his team.”

Sanchez wasn’t great in this one, going 17 of 35 for 180 yards

and an interception, but came through with his eighth

fourth-quarter comeback victory in two-plus seasons. He also threw

two touchdown passes to Dustin Keller as the Jets rebounded from a

deflating loss to Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos 10 days


Fitzpatrick was 26 of 39 for 264 yards and three touchdowns, but

couldn’t pull out one more in the end as Buffalo played without

several injured starters, including Fred Jackson and George


”Defensively, the one thing we can say is we finished,” Ryan


The Jets’ offense started the third quarter with a nice drive

capped by Keller’s second touchdown catch of the game that gave New

York a 21-14 lead with 3:50 remaining in the period.

Buffalo tied it less than 2 minutes later on Brad Smith’s

terrific touchdown catch against his former team. Moments after the

Bills recovered a muffed punt return by Antonio Cromartie, the Jets

cornerback was in the middle of another big play. Smith appeared to

get a hand on Fitzpatrick’s long pass, tapped the ball up, grabbed

it out of the air as Cromartie fell and took off into the end zone

for a career-best 36-yard touchdown.

”That was a huge victory for us,” Ryan said. ”Now we have two

wins over Buffalo, a team that we could see at the end right there

with us in the playoff run.”

Notes: David Nelson had the Bills’ other touchdown, an 8-yard

catch that gave Buffalo a 7-0 lead late in the opening quarter. …

Jets DE Mike DeVito left in the third quarter with a right knee

injury. Ryan had no update on the severity. … Former Bills

first-rounder Aaron Maybin had two of the Jets’ three sacks. …

Fitzpatrick became the fifth QB in team history with 50 TD passes,

joining Jim Kelly, Joe Ferguson, Jack Kemp and Drew Bledsoe.