ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Bart Scott and the New York Jets are accustomed to playing the role of villains. So the linebacker didn’t feel any pangs of regret for putting a big dent in the Buffalo 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 are back after Scott was part of a stifling 27-11 win in a key midseason AFC East showdown on Sunday.
Rex Ryan’s defense forced three turnovers and twice stopped the Bills on fourth down. The slow-starting Mark Sanchez-led offense finally got into gear in the second half to help New York win its third straight and improve to 5-3 and catch Buffalo in the standings.
“It’s totally attitude,” said defensive tackle Sione Pouha, who had a team-leading seven tackles and forced a fumble. “Jet-i-tude is the way we look at it. Today we displayed what Jet football is all about.”
Having done away with Buffalo, the Jets were already looking ahead to another AFC East showdown against the New England Patriots next weekend. It’s a game Sanchez is already calling the “divisional championship.”
Sanchez overcame a pair of first-half turnovers to finish 20 of 28 for 230 yards and an 8-yard touchdown to Santonio Holmes. LaDainian Tomlinson and John Conner scored on 1-yard plunges as the Jets got their first road victory and handed the Bills their first home loss (4-1).
The Bills looked nothing like the team that rolled through its first seven games in attempting to get off to a 6-2 start for the first time since 1993. They instead looked more like a team that’s now lost four straight and six of seven against the Jets.
“We just couldn’t get anything going,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “They kept us frustrated all day and didn’t allow us to do what we’ve been doing all year.”
Fitzpatrick finished 15 of 31 for 191 yards and two interceptions. He produced a mean-nothing 7-yard touchdown pass to David Nelson with 3:14 left, and the quarterback then ran the ball in for a 2-point conversion.
Through their first eight possessions, they had as many turnovers — three — as they did first downs while also being held to under 20 points for the first time this season.
So much for the statement the Bills hoped to deliver, or the “It’s our turn” comment receiver Stevie Johnson made earlier in the week.
“It’s disappointing,” said Johnson, who had three catches for 84 yards. “Nobody wants to lose against the Jets. That’s how we feel in here.”
The loss came as a huge letdown for a pompom waving, passionate fan-base that filled Ralph Wilson Stadium. Many of the fans wore white to match their team wearing all white uniforms for the first time since 1986.
“They played well and we played poorly,” Bills coach Chan Gailey said. “It was a big ballgame. We haven’t had this happen at home this year. And we’ve got to get better.”
It doesn’t get easier for the Bills, who now prepare to hit the road for four of five games, including their next three.
The Jets took over in the third quarter, when they outscored the Bills 17-3 to build a 20-3 lead.
Tomlinson scored 6:26 into the period to make it 13-0 three plays after Pouha forced Fred Jackson to fumble. Sanchez then hit Holmes for an 8-yard touchdown.
The Jets’ defense then sealed the win in the first minute of the fourth quarter. With Buffalo threatening, Scott and Calvin Pace combined to stuff Jackson for no gain on fourth-and-inches at the New York 15 yard line.
The Jets responded with a 14-play, 84-yard drive capped by Conner’s TD.
New York continued to focus on its ground game which combined for two scores and 126 yards — the team’s second-best total of the season.
“I’m sure now there’s going to be something written about the Jets being back,” Scott said. “And we won’t listen to that either, because at the end of the day, we know that you guys (in the media) don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”
Notes: Ryan said RB Shonn Greene was “a bit dizzy,” and was held out for precautionary reasons. TE Dustin Keller returned after hurting his head after landing hard on the turf in the first quarter while attempting to hurdle two Bills defenders. … Nick Folk hit two of three field-goal attempts, including a 50-yarder into the wind. … Bills PK Rian Lindell hit a 24-yard field goal. Lindell was having tests after the game after he hurt his right shoulder while making a diving tackle on Joe McKnight’s kickoff return to open the second half. … 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.