Cornerback Marcus Coleman caught a 45-yard scoring pass from Vinny Testaverde on the final play of the first half Sunday, breaking a tie and lifting the Jets to a 27-14 victory over the Buffalo Bills.
"We work on that play every Friday, so I knew there was a possibility we would run it," Coleman said of his spot on the Jets' alley-oop pass unit. "I was surprised that no one was on me as I ran down the middle. Once the ball was in the air, I don't care who was around me, I think the ball is mine."
The Jets, 3-0 for the first time since 1966, relied on Testaverde's fourth-quarter heroics to win their first two games. This time, along with Kevin Williams' 97-yard kickoff return in the first quarter, the big plays came in the first half.
Coleman, a starter on defense, caught his first NFL pass, outleaping four Bills defenders surrounding him in the back f the end zone, giving the Jets a 21-14 halftime lead. The play came after the Bills scored on a 74-yard pass from Rob Johnson to Jeremy McDaniel that tied the score with 1:07 remaining.
Bills coach Wade Phillips said Coleman's catch "turned the game around completely."
"We had the game going our way," he said. "We had the crowd out of it going into the half. We should have everybody back on the goal line. They should be waiting for the ball instead of jumping."
The victory left the Jets alone in first place in the AFC East, while the Bills lost for the first time after opening the season with two victories at home. Next Sunday, New York plays the Buccaneers and Keyshawn Johnson - in Tampa, Fla.
After Buffalo scored a touchdown on its first possession, Williams sprinted down the sideline to tie the score at 7.
"It happened early, but playmaking is contagious, so I was hoping we would make more," said Williams, who missed most of last season with a life-threatening throat infection. "But I can't harp on one play. Just like you do with a bad play, you have to forget a good play."
The Bills drove 80 yards in 12 plays on their first possession. Johnson passed to Eric Moulds for the final 3 yards after hitting tight end Jay Riemersma three times for 48 yards on the drive. Riemersma later left the game with a jammed knee, and his status was uncertain.
Williams' kickoff return and Curtis Martin's 5-yard TD run made it 14-7, and Buffalo's offense fizzled after its quick start, making just one first down on four possessions.
But late in the half, McDaniel got behind the Jets defense for the TD pass from Johnson, tying the score at 14.
The Jets, using short passes and their two remaining timeouts, reached the Buffalo 45, where Testaverde spiked the ball with four seconds left. From there, he lofted the ball into the end zone to Coleman, and the Bills never caught up.
New York scored twice after halftime on field goals by John Hall, and the Bills were hurt in the second half by a blocked field goal, two failed referees' challenges and three lost fumbles, two by punt returner Chris Watson.
"We shot ourselves in the foot too many times," Bills safety Keion Carpenter said. "Take away the pass and the kickoff return, an we played a pretty good game."
©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed