EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez threw three touchdown passes, including two to rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill, and the New York Jets scored on defense and special teams as well in a 48-28 win over the Buffalo Bills in front of a crowd of 79,088 Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The 48 points for the Jets set a franchise record for most points scored in an opener. The Bills sustained their most lopsided season-opening loss since a 34-13 loss to the Vikings in 1997.
Sanchez was the face of a beleaguered Jets offense that didn't score a touchdown in the preseason until third-stringers got into the end zone against the Eagles in the exhibition finale. But Sanchez recovered from throwing an interception on his first drive Sunday to not only quiet the concerns about the offense but do what nobody else could do the last six months: turn Tim Tebow into a non-story.
Sanchez was 20-of-28 for 266 yards and led five straight scoring drives following his interception as the Jets took a 41-7 lead. Tebow, meanwhile, made his much-anticipated debut as the Jets' Wildcat quarterback on the fourth play of the game but ended the game with just 12 yards on five carries.
Tebow was even the subject of a few boos when he rushed for no gain on second down from the Bills' 12-yard-line late in the second quarter. He garnered some cheers with 5:58 left, though, when he recovered an on sidekick by the Bills.
Hill had five catches for 89 yards in his NFL debut. Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, who missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury, scored two touchdowns, one on a 12-yard catch from Sanchez that put the Jets up 7-0 and the second on a 68-yard punt return that extended the lead to 21-0.
The Jets led 27-7 at the half and cornerback Antonio Cromartie iced the game on the Bills' first drive of the second half when he picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick and raced 40 yards for the touchdown.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three touchdown passes for the Bills, but was also picked off three times. C.J. Spiller had 14 carries for a career-high 169 yards and a career-long 56-yard touchdown for the Bills, who may have absorbed an even bigger loss when starting running back Fred Jackson sustained a sprained right knee during a second quarter carry. He is expected to undergo an MRI Monday.
Notes: The Jets retired Curtis Martin's No. 28 at halftime. Martin, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in July, opened his career with 10 straight 1,000-yard seasons and retired as the fourth-leading rusher in NFL history with 14,101 yards. He played his final eight seasons with the Jets. ... The Jets improved to 24-29 in season openers while the Bills fell to 21-32. The Jets are 7-3 against the Bills in season openers. ... Kerley's punt return for a touchdown was the Jets' first since Santana Moss took one back 52 yards against the Redskins Nov. 3, 2002. ... Fitzpatrick threw at least three interceptions for the fourth time in his last nine starts. He threw three picks against the Cowboys Nov. 13 and the Dolphins Dec. 18 and four interceptions against the Patriots Jan. 1.