By Steve Keating
Written off as a Super Bowl threat after three consecutive defeats, the Jets responded with three straight wins to join the Bills at 5-3 in the hotly contested division.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game, Buffalo was undefeated here," Jets coach Rex Ryan told reporters. "I also knew our team was going to come out guns blazing.
"Our guys were loose and focused and we are at our best when we play that way."
With the Bills and New England Patriots threatening to turn the AFC East into a two-horse race, the desperate Jets have been playing catch-up.
There was an unmistakable playoff atmosphere in the brisk autumn air on a sunny afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium, with the Jets needing a win to keep from falling two games back of the division front-runners.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who had come under harsh criticism during the Jets tailspin, delivered a solid effort completing 20-of-28 passes for 230 yards including a touchdown to Santonio Holmes in the third quarter that broke open what had been a close contest.
The high-powered Bills offence that had been averaging over 30 points a game, was held in check by a hard-hitting Jets defense that limited Buffalo to a Rian Lindell field goal until conceding a touchdown with just over three minutes to play.
"They played well, we played poorly," said Bills coach Chan Gailey. "I didn't get these guys ready to play well enough ... we got to get better.
A 49-yard field goal from Jets kicker Nick Folk accounted for all the scoring in an error-filled opening half that saw Sanchez picked off in the end zone to snuff out one drive and fumble to end another while Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was intercepted twice.
The Jets came flying out of the intermission, Folk pounding a 50-yard field goal and Tomlinson diving over for the game's first touchdown after Buffalo turned the ball over on their own 19 on a Fred Jackson fumble.
The Bills answered with a 24-yard Lindell field goal but the Jets were back in the end zone the next series, Sanchez hitting Holmes with an eight-yard touchdown strike after a 42-yard pass interference call on Leodis McKelvin moved the ball deep into Buffalo territory.
The Jets benefited from another pass interference call in the end zone in the fourth quarter that put the ball on the one where Conner bulled over to put New York in charge 27-3.
Buffalo rewarded those fans who hung on until the end with a late touchdown, Fitzpatrick finding David Nelson with a seven-yard pass then running in for the two-point convert.
"They frustrated us all day and kept us from doing what we've been doing all year," said Fitzpatrick.
"We were really excited about this game and really wanted to show our division we're here and we're a better team than we've been in the past and unfortunately today we didn't show that."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)