EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Geno Smith's second long touchdown pass of the day, a 69-yarder to Santonio Holmes with 9:23 left Sunday evening, snapped a tie and lifted the New York Jets to a 27-20 win over the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium.
The Jets (2-1) survived a franchise-record 20 penalties to remain a game behind the unbeaten Patriots and Dolphins in the AFC East.
The Bills (1-2) might have suffered an even bigger loss when running back C.J. Spiller exited in the third quarter with a knee injury and did not return.
Smith threw two interceptions that led to six Bills points, but he was the clear victor over the Bills' EJ Manuel in the battle of rookie quarterbacks. Smith finished 16-for-29 for 331 yards with two touchdown passes -- the first of which went for 51 yards to Stephen Hill in the second quarter -- as well as an 8-yard touchdown run.
Manuel, meanwhile was under constant pressure by a swarming Jets defense and was 19-for-41 for 243 yards and one touchdown while being sacked eight times. He absorbed just one sack in the Bills' first two games.
The Bills had more than one first down on just two of their first 10 drives, but the Jets melted down during a fourth quarter series, committing four penalties before Manuel hit a wide-open Scott Chandler for a 33-yard touchdown. Manuel then connected with Stevie Johnson on the 2-point conversion to tie the game.
Smith and Holmes wasted little time in reversing the Jets' momentum. On the second play of the subsequent possession, Holmes -- who was draped by Justin Rogers -- made a one-handed catch and raced into the end zone for his first touchdown since Sept. 16, 2012.
Three more New York penalties led to two first downs for the Bills on their next drive, but Buffalo could not get beyond the Jets' 46-yard-line. A last-ditch drive for the Bills ended with Manuel overthrowing Robert Woods on 4th-and-long from Buffalo's 43-yard-line.
Bilal Powell set career highs for the Jets with 26 carries for 139 yards. Holmes finished with five catches for 154 yards while Hill had a career-high 108 yards on three catches.
Dan Carpenter kicked four field goals for the Bills while Fred Jackson had seven carries for 72 yards.
The Jets opened the game with a 12-play, 80-yard drive capped by an 8-yard touchdown run off a quarterback draw by Smith, who was wrapped up around the 2-yard line but got an inadvertent shove into the end zone by the Bills' Kiko Alonso.
A pair of miscues by the Jets allowed the Bills to pull within a point early in the second. Jackson's 59-yard run -- in which he appeared to be wrapped up for no gain before shaking free of Calvin Pace -- set up the first of Carpenter's field goals.
Ex-Jets safety Jim Leonhard intercepted Smith on the Jets' next play from scrimmage and the Bills took over at the Jets' 21 following a 27-yard return by Leonhard and a facemask penalty on Vladimir Ducasse. Seven plays later, Carpenter kicked a 23-yard field goal.
Smith redeemed himself on the next series, when he hit a wide-open Hill in stride for a 51-yard touchdown. Smith ended the half by orchestrating a five-play, 37-yard drive that led to a 47-yard field goal by Nick Folk.
Another Folk field goal capped the Jets' first drive of the second half and extended their lead to 20-6. Four plays after a 43-yard field goal by Carpenter, Smith was picked off by Alonso, who returned it to the Jets' 13-yard-line. But the Jets' defense clamped down and forced the Bills to settle for another Carpenter field goal.
NOTES: In addition to Spiller, the Bills lost CB Leodis McKelvin (hamstring), G Kraig Urbik (knee) and DT Marcell Dareus (ankle) to injuries before DE Alex Carrington was carted off the field with 1:10 left. ... Powell was thrust into every-down duty when RB Chris Ivory suffered a hamstring injury during the Jets' first possession. He finished with five yards on four carries. ... The win snapped a five-game AFC East losing streak for the Jets, whose previous divisional win was a 20-17 overtime victory over the Dolphins 52 weeks earlier. ... Bills coach Doug Marrone was trying to become only the second first-year coach in franchise history to start 2-1. Kay Stephenson did it in 1983.