Jets look ahead to Pats after beating Bills, 27-11
Not long after LaDainian Tomlinson and the New York Jets brushed aside the upstart Buffalo Bills, they began looking ahead to the next step in their bid to claim AFC East supremacy.
Bring on the New England Patriots.
''It's right there in front of us,'' the running back said. ''If this is our time to take over and win the AFC East, this is the time to do it.''
The Jets did their part in climbing back into contention with a defensively stifling 27-11 win over the Bills on Sunday. Later in the day, they got help from the Giants, who rallied to defeat the Patriots 24-20. That leaves the Jets, Bills and Patriots all with 5-3 records, with New York preparing to host New England on Sunday night.
And the Jets, fresh off their bye week, are on a roll, having won three in a row since losing three straight - including 30-21 loss at New England.
''This is the championship game and we need to win that thing,'' added quarterback Mark Sanchez, looking ahead to next week.
Sanchez finished 20 of 28 for 230 yards passing, and overcame two first-half turnovers (an interception and fumble) to hit Santonio Holmes for an 8-yard touchdown in helping the Jets outscore the Bills 17-3 in a decisive third quarter. Tomlinson and John Conner each scored on 1-yard plunges, while the Jets defense did the rest.
Defensive tackle Sione Pouha had a team-leading seven tackles and forced running back Fred Jackson to fumble as part of a three-takeaway performance by a defense that limited the Bills to 73 yards and three first downs in the first half. They also stopped the Bills twice on downs, including a fourth-and-inches stuffing of Jackson at the New York 15 yard line in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
''It's totally attitude,'' Pouha said. ''Jet-i-tude is the way we look at it. Today we displayed what Jet football is all about.''
The Jets won their first road game of the season after three losses, while also ending the Bills' four-game home win streak - including the previous week's 23-0 win over Washington at Toronto.
And Buffalo's feel-good start has suddenly taken an ominous turn for a team that prepares to play its next three - and four of its next five - on the road, starting at Dallas next weekend.
''We just didn't show up,'' receiver Stevie Johnson said, who earlier in the week caused a minor stir by suggesting it was the Bills' turn to take the division. ''I give (the Jets) props. They came in and handled business.''
Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled in going 15 of 31 for 191 yards, with two interceptions and a mean-nothing 7-yard touchdown to David Nelson in the closing minutes. Jackson couldn't get untracked, finishing with a combined 120 yards from scrimmage, including 82 rushing, well below the 153 he averaged entering the game.
And so much for the statement the Bills hoped to make in showing they belong to be counted seriously among the midseason contenders in their bid to end an 11-season playoff drought.
''I don't worry about statements. I worry about winning and not winning, and we didn't win today,'' coach Chan Gailey said, before noting the Bills travel to face the Jets again in three weeks. ''They played well. We played poorly. It's my responsibility to get our team ready to play each week.''
Gailey might have another big worry after place-kicker Rian Lindell hurt his right shoulder while making a diving shoestring tackle to trip up Joe McKnight on the opening kickoff of the second half. Though Lindell hit a 24-yard field goal in the third quarter, Gailey noted the kicker wasn't available for lengthier attempts.
Gailey didn't have a full update on Lindell's injury following the game, except to confirm the player was having tests on his shoulder.
Jets linebacker Bart Scott didn't feel any pangs of regret for putting a big dent in the Bills and their feel-good start.
''Everybody loves Cinderella stories,'' Scott said, referring to the Bills. ''We've always been portrayed as the bad guys, but we relish in that role.''
And just like that, the big, bad, brash-talking Jets were back.
NOTES: The Jets have won four straight and six of the past seven against the Bills. ... Buffalo blew a chance to get off to a 6-2 start for the first time since 1993. ... Nick Folk hit two of three field-goal attempts, including a 50-yarder into the wind. ... Bills Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson made his first appearance of the season at Orchard Park after he missed his team's first four home games while recovering from a broken hip.