Sanchez threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards(notes) before hurting his right knee, and the Jets’ stingy defense finished the job in a 19-13 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night.
The Jets (6-6) won their second straight game and moved within a victory of AFC East-leading New England (7-4), which plays at Miami on Sunday.
Not all the news was good.
Sanchez was wearing a brace after sustaining what coach Rex Ryan described as a mild sprain which happened when the quarterback hurt himself with a headfirst dive at the end of an 8-yard run early in the third quarter. Sanchez had hurt his other knee in a 17-6 win over Carolina last weekend, which led to the team bringing in Yankees manager Joe Girardi to provide sliding lessons for the first-year quarterback.
“He’s got to understand that it’s in the organization’s best interests to slide, and that was disappointing,” said Ryan, who added it’s uncertain whether Sanchez will be able to play at Tampa Bay on Dec. 13. “I love the kid, but he’s got to grow up and understand that he represents our entire organization.”
The Jets, at least, didn’t let down after Sanchez was escorted to the locker room.
Thomas Jones(notes) had 109 yards rushing to lead a Jets’ ground attack that registered 249 yards. In two games against Buffalo, including a 16-13 overtime loss at the Meadowlands on Oct. 18, the Jets combined for 567 yards rushing.
And New York’s defense did the rest, limiting Buffalo to 36 yards and four first downs in the second half.
The win was sealed with two big defensive plays to end the Bills’ final drive.
Shaun Ellis(notes) burst up the middle to sack Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) for a 10-yard loss. On the next play, Fitzpatrick attempted a desperation heave up the right sideline intended for Terrell Owens(notes). The pass was underthrown, which allowed Darrelle Revis(notes) to intercept it with 2:02 remaining. The Jets were able to run out the clock.
“They had our number today,” Fitzpatrick said. “Very disappointing. We had opportunities all day. Just real disappointed with what happened out there.”
Buffalo (4-8) failed to build off the momentum it gained following a 31-14 win over Miami, and dropped to 1-2 since Perry Fewell took over as interim coach after Dick Jauron was fired.
“We just didn’t get it done, bottom line,” Fewell said. “But we had an opportunity to win the football game in the fourth quarter.”
Revis’ interception capped another solid outing for the cornerback in the Darrelle-versus-Terrell season sequel. He limited Owens to three catches for 13 yards in their first meeting. This time, Owens managed three catches for 31 yards.
“I just try the best I can,” Revis said. “We know he’s a big-time receiver. I get that job every week.”
The game was Buffalo’s second in Toronto, part of a five-year, $78 million deal the Bills reached with Toronto-based Rogers Communications last year to play one annual regular-season game and three preseason contests in Canada’s largest city and financial capital.
“This is my first time going outside of the country. I got my passport for the first time,” Revis said. “It was a good time.”
Owens chalked up the loss to missed opportunities due to breakdowns by Buffalo’s patchwork offensive line, which lost right tackle Kirk Chambers(notes) to an injured left ankle late in the second quarter.
“We had an opportunity there at the end to at least establish something, but it was too little, too late,” Owens said.
The teams traded the lead three times in the first half. Down 10-9, the Jets went ahead for good when Sanchez scrambled out of trouble and hit Edwards over the middle with 44 seconds left in the half to cap a six-play, 86-yard drive.
Sanchez finished 7 of 15 for 104 yards in an abbreviated night that was a much better performance than his previous game against Buffalo, when he threw a season-worst five interceptions, including one that set up the winning field goal.
Sanchez was disappointed in himself for the way he got hurt.
“I’m probably going to take some heat for not sliding. But in the heat of the momentum I was just trying to get the first down,” Sanchez said. “Tough play.”
And yet, he was hopeful he won’t miss any playing time.
“I’m optimistic,” Sanchez said. “I’ll do anything I can to play next week.”
NOTES: The Bills have lost 10 straight prime-time games, dating to a 13-10 win at Jacksonville on Oct. 18, 2001. They are 1-2 since opening their Bills-in-Toronto series with a 24-21 preseason win against Pittsburgh on Aug. 14. … With 1,068 yards rushing, Jones broke the 1,000-yard plateau for a fifth straight season. Of that total, he has 319 in two games against Buffalo. … Owens inched closer to becoming the NFL’s sixth player to register 1,000 receptions. He has 994.