The Jets displayed a lot of positives in Sunday’s 27-20 win over the Buffalo Bills despite setting a franchise record for penalties.
The team was penalized 20 times for 168 yards, but took advantage of an injured Bills secondary and gained 513 yards on offense, the most ever under head coach Rex Ryan. The defense recorded eight sacks behind its most impressive pass rush in years.
Quarterback Geno Smith set the tone on the game's opening drive, marching his team down the field and capping it off with an eight-yard touchdown run. Smith threw the ball downfield early and often, finishing the day with two touchdown passes and a season-high 331 yards passing.
Wide receiver Santonio Holmes was Smith's favorite target, catching five passes and a career-best 154 receiving yards. Smith and Holmes also connected on a 69-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter which gave the Jets the lead and proved to be the game-winner.
Week 3 was something of a coming out party for Holmes, who has been playing hurt and was a non-factor in the team's first two games.
"I didn't have a good game the first game, only one catch,” Holmes told the media after the game. “It was just getting back into the groove of playing football. Today was a good opportunity to showcase how well I can be from this point forward."
The offense also got a boost from receiver Stephen Hill and running back Bilal Powell. Hill finished the day with three catches and 108 receiving yards while Powell shouldered the load after fellow running back Chris Ivory left the game early with an injured hamstring, notching a career-high 149 yards rushing on 27 carries.
“Powell rushed for 149 yards — what a day, what a day,” praised coach Ryan. “He’s fighting for every yard. We’ve seen this from him, though. It’s not like we’re surprised. He just — wow! He’s durable, dependable. He’s just a much better player than he has been given credit for.”
Durable and dependable could also be used to describe the team’s defense.
The unit gave Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel fits all day long, sacking him eight times and forcing him out of his comfort zone.
Linebacker Calvin Pace missed a tackle on Buffalo running back Fred Jackson in the second quarter, leading to a 59-yard run. But as the defense has done all season long, they bent, but didn’t break, and held the Bills to a field goal. And they bailed out their young quarterback until he got his groove going.
As the team heads on the road for two straight games, Gang Green has a chance to be very good. If the Jets continue to get more production out of the offense and limit their mistakes, they could return home as the surprise of the National Football League.
As for the penalties, Ryan says those can be fixed.
"We've been one of the least penalized teams in the league, so I know we can get this fixed," Ryan said of his team's mistakes. "That's kind of what excites me: How good can this team be when we eliminate the self-inflicted wounds?"