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The vindication started with the much-maligned offense that scored only 31 points in the preseason. They eclipsed that total by the third quarter yesterday. Quarterback Mark Sanchez led the way, throwing for three touchdowns and 266 yards while completing 70.4 percent (19 of 27) of his passes.
He had one heck of a day today, Jets coach Rex Ryan said.
After a ton of preseason hype about Tim Tebow and the Wildcat offense, it was instead Sanchez who stole the show on opening day. After throwing an interception on the first possession, he moved the unit at will against the supposedly improved Bills defense.
I think he definitely turned it on today, said wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, who had a receiving touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown. Theres always a big target on Marks back and he likes it. Hes the guy we trust and we know what hes capable of every week and he showed it today.
Tebow played nine offensive snaps, running eight Wildcat plays. He gained 11 yards on five carries. The much-anticipated Tebow chants never materialized. In fact, the only boos of the day were directed at Tebow after he rushed for no gain in the second quarter. The stadium scoreboard quickly flashed, Quiet! Offense at work!
After a little bit, we didnt show too much, Tebow said of the Wildcat plays. We were able to get in there and have some efficient plays.
Tebow became just a footnote in this impressive Jets win. The 48 points are the most theyve scored in a season opener and most in a game since putting up 56 on Sept. 28, 2008 against Arizona.
We needed a day like this, tight end Dustin Keller said. Our offense needed a good game. Most of the guys on offense knew we were good, but for the few guys on the team who werent sure, this reassured them. I guess you could say this was a statement. Guys in this locker room knew we were capable of this, but this shows how explosive we can be.
The defense helped the offense out, causing four turnovers that led to 24 points. Cornerback Darrelle Revis picked off Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick four plays after Sanchez had been intercepted on an ill-advised flip that went off tight end Jeff Cumberland to Bills defensive back Bryan Scott.
Sanchez then orchestrated an eight-play drive that ended with a pretty pass to Kerley in the back corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead. The Jets increased it to 14-0 when rookie Stephen Hill hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass, the first of his two scores. MetLife Stadium then came unhinged when Kerley took a punt 68 yards for a score and a 21-0 lead with 12:40 left in the first half.
It looked like we were making up for lost time there, Sanchez said, referring to the team scoring just one touchdown in the preseason.
The Jets kept their foot on the gas and Hills 17-yard touchdown in the third quarter made it 41-7. The Jets relaxed after that and the Bills scored 21 unanswered points, but the game was already over.
The Jets did not gloat after the decisive victory, knowing that a bigger test now awaits them next week with a trip to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers.
I think vindication, or chip on the shoulder, maybe thats not the right thing, Ryan said. We were just excited to play.
Jets players were split about how motivated they were by the criticism the team has received lately, but it definitely seemed to give them a spark.
We dont care what people say about us or if people write negative things about us, but when people have been critical of us we seem to perform our best, Keller said. So I would appreciate it if you guys would find a way to put a negative spin on this game.
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