Jets' Defense Thwarts Bills


The one team out of the AFC East race might be the one that decides it.

Or are the New York Jets suddenly a contender in the NFL's toughest division?

The Jets won their third straight game Sunday with a staunch defensive effort in beating the Buffalo Bills 17-7. The Jets, who won the division last season but have sunk to last place in an injury-wrecked year, have beaten AFC East contenders New England and Buffalo in consecutive games.

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Game Summary

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  • "There is a lot of football left," coach Bill Parcells noted after his Jets (4-6) held Buffalo to 265 yards overall and made their own 208 yards on offense stand up. "How many losses do they have? Four. How many for us? Six. I'm not very good at math, but that is six for them and four for us with six to go."

    Added receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who threw the first pass of his career in the third quarter, "You don't want to start counting your chickens or eggs or whatever they count, but we'll worry about ourselves and let everybody else shoot themselves in the foot."

    The Bills (7-4) did a superb job of self-destructing offensively with three giveaways and plenty of poor throws and imprecise routes. They aren't counting out anybody in the division certainly not Miami (8-2), Indianapolis (8-2) or New England (6-4). And not even the Jets.

    "I think it will be hard for them. They've got to win them all," Bills coach Wade Phillips said. "As long as they win every game like they are doing ..."

    Inexperienced defensive linemen Eric Ogbogu and Jason Wiltz had key turnovers for the Jets. Ogbogu fell on Doug Flutie's fumble in the end zone for a second-quarter touchdown, and Wiltz picked off a deflected pass at the ets 10 in the dying moments.

    "As a young guy, you've got to produce when you get the chance," said the rarely used Ogbogu. "I had not been getting the opportunities and I knew I would get it today and I had to produce."

    Wiltz, a rookie, has played more often than Ogbogu, and he made his biggest contribution this season on Sunday.

    "On the sideline, I was talking with Eric about making a big play, making something happen," Wiltz said. "I just saw the ball sitting on (Bills tackle John) Fina's back. I grabbed it as quick as I could. I'm just glad to help the team any way I can."

    Although Buffalo shut down Curtis Martin, yielding only 64 yards and stopping his streak of 100-yard games at four, it was outplayed most of the day. And Martin was effective as a receiver with seven catches for 42 yards.

    Ray Lucas, safely ensconced at quarterback now that he is healthy, was 16-for-20 for 142 yards in a conservative game plan that worked well.

    "He hit the little dinks and dunks and kept the ball moving," Johnson said.

    Lucas completed his first eight passes and used his elusiveness to avoid a hefty Bills pass rush that still managed five sacks. On his 9-yard second-period touchdown run, capping a 70-yard drive, Lucas accelerated out of the pocket before any Bills could react. He sped untouched into the end zone for his first career TD rushing.

    "I felt like throwing the ball out of the stadium," he said.

    Ray Mickens' big play, finished off by second-year defensive end Ogbogu, made it 14-0. Mickens came free on a blitz and punched the ball out of Flutie's hands in the end zone. It rolled around for several seconds before Ogbogu corralled it.

    Victor Green thwarted Buffalo's best threat of the first half. Green's fourth pickoff of the season was aided by Bills rookie tight end Bobby Collins running the wrong route from the Jets 11. While Collins headed to the end zone, Flutie threw outside and Green was the only one there.

    Flutie saved a touchdown with a tackle at the Buffalo 41, but the turnover was typical of Buffalo's day.

    "Turnovers and inconsistency," Flutie said. "If you make that many mistakes, you will lose."

    New York went ahead 17-0 on John Hall's 36-yard field goal, then the Bills got going thanks to a hurry-up attack. Flutie completed six passes on a 66-yard drive capped by Peerless Price's 2-yard TD receptio.

    Wiltz's interception after Ernie Logan tipped the pass finished off Buffalo.

    Notes

  • Johnson's first NFL pass, a bomb to Wayne Chrebet, was slightly overthrown
  • Jets rookie tackle Ryan Young, making his second start, sprained his left knee
  • The Bills are stuck at 99 victories for the decade
  • Bruce Smith, the NFL's active sacks leader, had just one-half of his team's five sacks. Phil Hansen led the Bills with 1 1/2
  • Jets placekicker John Hall lined up for a 54-yarder, then took a direct snap and punted the ball 34 yards.

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