Marshawn Lynch returns after the third quarter gets under way, but the Bills featured back still isn’t ready to return to action. He jogs with a dark green towel over his head to the stationary bike and starts to pedal as the Bills try to move the ball on the second half.
The Bills try some fakery that, in a similar form, worked well for the Raiders two weeks ago. Facing fourth-and-4 at their 24, Buffalo punter Brian Moorman takes off on a run. On the play, newly activated Jason Trusnik is mauled by Buffalo’s Bryan Scott, and the flag is thrown for holding.
But a long delay ensues when ref Ron Winter’s crew rules that Moorman didn’t even gain the first down and it’s Jets ball at the B-24. Coach Dick Jauron challenges the spot and Winter finally rules that Moorman did get the first down, but the Bills have to repunt because of the penalty. Moorman shanks that kick and the Jets take over at their 47.
Again the Jets move into the Buffalo red zone but not across the goal line. Brett Favre finds Dustin Keller on a nice second-and-11 completion for a first-and-goal just inside the 10, but three plays get only to the 2, so Jay Feely comes on for his fourth field goal try and makes his third, from 20 yards out, to increase the Jets’ lead to 16-7 with 8:55 left in the third quarter.
The Lindell kickoff looks like trouble — it’s almost out of bounds but stays in bounds. But the rule isn’t like a third baseman waiting for a ball to roll foul that never does, Leon Washington makes a great play that is rarely seen. He gets his foot out of bounds and fields the kick inbounds. That makes it an out-of-bounds kick and the Jets get the ball at their 40 instead of their 8. Great move, Leon, Mike Westhoff and Kevin O’Dea.
That provides the platform for the Jets to knife through the previously impenetrable Bills defense for the offense’s first touchdown of the game. The key play is Favre’s slant to Jerricho Cotchery, who catches the ball in traffic and almost accelerates for a TD.
It is reminiscent of J-Co’s 77-yard TD catch-and-run at New England in the 2006 playoffs. The difference is that this doesn’t go for a TD. But it goes for 35 yards to first-and-goal at the Buffalo 7.
On the next play, Thomas Jones strides through the middle of the line for the 7-yard touchdown. The 60-yard drive to seven gives the Jets a 23-10 lead with 1:07 to play in the period. I would say "commanding" lead but here at "the Ralph" commanding leads don’t happen until later in the game.
But commanding gets a little closer when Kris Jenkins gets his second sack on a three-man rush and C.J. Mosley gets his first sack of the season. And Rian Lindell, who hit from 53 yards last quarter, misses from 43 with 11:05 to play.
Then commanding goes away as Favre, under pressure up the gut from LB Paul Posluszny, throws another pick-six. This one he tried to get up for Jerricho Cotchery on an out to the left side but when his arm is hit, the ball flutters to Jabari Greer, who juggles it slightly but takes it 42 yards the other way to put the Bills right back into it. The Jets’ lead is cut to 23-17, with 10:53 to play.
But the Jets don’t let it shake them. Favre, who may have invented the "five-second rule" before Eric Mangini came up with it, leads the Jets from their 22 all the way to the Buffalo red zone. The big plays: a third-and-1 flip for 1-yard to Thomas Jones, followed by a 23-yard run by Jones to the Bills 32 behind big blocks by Alan Faneca, who pulls and blocks S Bryan Scott twice on the play, and FB Tony Richardson.
The Jets are in range of making it a two-score game with two minutes or less left for the Bills to get those two scores. With 3:10 to play, the Bills call their second timeout.
And then their third timeout after a Washington 5-yard run makes it third-and-3 at the 13.
One more run, the clock runs down to 2:16, then the Jets call their own timeout to set up Jay Feely’s 31-yard field goal. The James Dearth snap is uncharacteristically high, but holder Reggie Hodges snags it, gets the ball down and Feely converts to give the Jets a 26-17 edge with 2:12 to play.
The Bills, with no timeouts left, have no margin for error and only one time stoppage at the two-minute warning. McKelvin takes the kickoff to the Buffalo 37 and the Bills get to work. Edwards hits TE Robert Royal for 20 yards and the clock is stopped with 1:59 to play.
Another completion to Lee Evans to the Jets 30, but with G Jason Whittle needing injury attention, the Bills have in effect called their fourth timeout, which requires a 10-second runoff to 1:29 to go. Another completion to Evans going out of bounds — he has a quiet four catches today.
And then Darrelle Revis steps up with another big play, even bigger than his strip-sack and recovery in the first half. Edwards tries to find James Hardy at the goal line, but Revis is with him step for step and has the position. The second-year corner comes down with the end zone interception in front of the rookie WR and the Jets have posted the upset.
Favre kneels and the Jets have come away with a crucial, hard-fought, hard-earned 26-17 victory at Buffalo to catch the Bills at 5-3 in the AFC East standings. A loss by New England at Indianapolis tonight would create a three-way tie in the division.
We’ll have Eric Allen’s game story, my postgame Radar entry and a feature by Tim Carlson in the coming hours as we recognize one of the biggest road wins of recent Jets history.
Tags: Brett Favre, Brian Moorman, Dick Jauron, Jason Trusnik, Leon Washington, Marshawn Lynch, Thomas Jones
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