Could these be the same New York Jets who did nothing right in a bumbling 0-4 start?
Well, they sure were. The Jets won after their bye week yet again, this time routing the Buffalo Bills 30-3 Sunday for their first victory of the season.
Martin came through. The defense came through. And Testaverde came through, helping the Jets break out of their offensive lull.
“We were desperate,” Martin said.
Entering the bye week, the Jets could not run or stop the run and could barely score, especially inside the 20. Against the Bills, those problems seemed to be solved.
Martin ran for a season-high 77 yards on 20 carries as the Jets finally got their running game going, tallying over 100 total yards on the ground for the first time this season.
The Jets held Henry to 53 yards on 18 carries—though he did catch seven passes for 35 yards as Buffalo (3-3) played without top receiver Eric Moulds, out with a strained groin.
Testaverde finished 11-of-17 for 130 yards and threw three touchdown passes in a game for the first time since tossing five in a 40-37 overtime victory over Miami on Oct. 23, 2000.
It should be one of his final starts for the Jets this season. Starter Chad Pennington, out since the preseason with a broken and dislocated left wrist, began practicing this week and worked out at the Meadowlands on Sunday morning before the start of the game.
Pennington could return as early as Oct. 26 against the Eagles. He helped rally the Jets last season, and the win against the Bills could help them start to turn around their season.
“It’s huge,” center Kevin Mawae said. “To get this monkey off our back, to get the win and do it the way we did it—we were the team we wanted to be all along.”
The Jets would not leave Drew Bledsoe alone—even without Pro Bowl end John Abraham, held out of the game because of a drunken driving arrest. Shaun Ellis and Jason Ferguson each had two sacks, while first-round draft pick Dewayne Robertson notched his first sack. Sam Cowart, playing against his former team, had a sack and finished with a game-high 15 tackles.
The last time the Jets had seven sacks was in a 34-17 win over New England on Oct. 15, 2000.
Bledsoe threw an interception and fumbled once, finishing 24-of-40 for 202 yards before being pulled for Alex Van Pelt with three minutes left. Van Pelt threw an interception on his first pass.
“We did have our backs against the wall,” said Jets cornerback Ray Mickens, who had an interception. “In the bye week we made some changes, and like we did the last two years, we came out and played well.”
The Jets improved to 3-0 after a week off under coach Herman Edwards.
Last season, they were 1-4 entering the bye but finished the season with the AFC East title and a 9-7 record.
“I wish we had a bye week all the time,” defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell said.
The Bills took a quick 3-0 lead, but their fortunes changed after Henry gained no yards on fourth-and-1 from the Jets 34 toward the end of the first quarter. The Jets took over, and nine plays later, Testaverde threw a 1-yard TD pass to tight end Anthony Becht.
On Buffalo’s next possession, Bledsoe could not handle a bad snap from center Trey Teague, and the ball went bouncing 21 yards behind him, before Bryan Thomas recovered for the Jets at the Buffalo 17. Despite the good field position, they could only manage a Doug Brien’s 27-yard field goal to make it 10-3.
Santana Moss set up their next TD. After the Bills went three-and-out to start the third quarter, Moss returned a punt 47 yards to the Buffalo 18. One play later, Testaverde threw his second TD pass to Becht, making it 20-3.
Moss finished with three punt returns for 102 yards, and also had a 4-yard TD reception just before the end of the third quarter.
“We didn’t play well enough in any area, didn’t coach well enough, and they were inspired and outplayed us in every phase,” Buffalo coach Gregg Williams said.
Next up, the Jets travel to Houston with renewed confidence and hope they can save their season.
“It gives us a little life,” Edwards said, “but we still have a long wayto go.”
Several players were injured. For the Bills: OT Jonas Jennings (hip flexor). For the Jets: LB Victor Hobson (ribs), CB Jamie Henderson (knee), S Jon McGraw (shoulder), CB Leonard Myers (shoulder), WR Wayne Chrebet (had wind knocked out). … Testaverde passed Joe Montana for seventh place on the NFL’scareer yardage list.