EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Mario Williams had a quiet day in his debut for the Buffalo Bills — except when he complained about the replacement officials.
Ryan Fitzpatrick had a lousy day, throwing three interceptions that New York converted into 21 points Sunday in the Jets' 48-28 season-opening victory. Oh, and the Bills lost running back Fred Jackson to a knee injury.
It could be a long year in Buffalo, which has not made the playoffs since the 1999 season.
"We're not going to go around like the sky is falling," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to let them do that."
The Bills scored the bulk of their points after the Jets built a 41-7 lead midway through the third quarter. Williams was frustrated not only by the score but by the replacement officials working the game.
"Obviously, some of the officials on the field don't understand what constitutes an offsetting penalty, and that's disappointing," said Williams, who had one tackle and no sacks in his debut with the Bills after signing a six-year, $100 million deal in the offseason that is the biggest for a defensive player. "Also, pass blocking doesn't include hands to the face. When someone tells the officials that and they just walk away, or they don't call it, that's disheartening."
Williams was matched up all game against Austin Howard, the Jets' new starter at right tackle. Howard had a good game, but the defensive end said he also got some help.
"He's a hands-to-the-face guy," Williams said of Howard, "and they don't call it, so he'll continue to do it."
Trailing 27-7 at half, Fitzpatrick threw his third interception directly to Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie who brought it back 40 yards for a score.
"Even at halftime, there was still optimism to come out," said Fitzpatrick, who also threw three touchdown passes. "To throw the pick six, a lot of the hope faded out there. I can't turn the ball over three times and expect us to dig ourselves out and win.
"It's unacceptable and embarrassing."
As the Bills look to regroup, they will have to fill the possible voids left by Jackson and wide receiver David Nelson, who also left with a knee injury.
"Fred doesn't look as bad as David," Gailey said. "We don't know how bad David is, but it doesn't look good right now. We'll get a further evaluation tomorrow."
All afternoon, the Bills fought an uphill battle against a whole lot of Mark Sanchez, a sprinkling of Tim Tebow and a dominant first-half effort by the Jets' defense.
"We knew what we could do," said wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, who had a touchdown catch and returned a punt for a score. "We just showed the world today."
And, boy, did they. Sanchez threw three touchdown passes, including two to rookie Stephen Hill. That's from a team — labeled by some a "circus" for its penchant for offseason headlines — that had many wondering what to expect after the first-team offense failed to score a touchdown in the first three games of the preseason.
There were plenty of touchdowns in this one for the Jets, who set the franchise mark for most points in a season opener on Shonn Greene's late 1-yard run.
Sanchez had the offense humming along so well, the fans at MetLife Stadium actually booed Tebow when he failed to gain a yard when he took a direct snap in the second quarter.
Not everything went right, though, as the Jets allowed 195 yards rushing, including a career-high 169 by C.J. Spiller, and All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis left in the fourth quarter with a head injury.
Early in the fourth period Ryan took a tumble when Scott Chandler knocked into him on the sideline after a catch. Ryan went down to a knee and then laughed as he got up.
The game marked the highly anticipated debuts of Tebow, who worked in the wildcat a little bit and also recovered a late onside kick by Buffalo, and Williams — who was a non-factor against a Jets offensive line that protected Sanchez throughout and gave him plenty of time to throw.
Sanchez finished 19 of 27 for 266 yards and the three scores and an interception, and Tebow had five rushes for 11 yards and didn't throw a pass. Greene had 27 carries for 94 yards and the TD, and Hill had five catches for 89 yards.
Fitzpatrick was 18 of 32 for 195 yards and three touchdowns — to Chandler, Stevie Johnson, Donald Jones — and the three interceptions.
The Bills couldn't get much going early and weren't helped by the crew of replacement officials. On fourth-and-1 from its 29, Buffalo was called for delay of game after the officials took a while spotting the ball. Several Bills players yelled at officials, to no avail, and it became fourth-and-6.
Brian Moorman punted it 43 yards, and Kerley — zigzagging through tackle attempts — returned it 68 yards for a touchdown, putting New York up 21-0.
"It's something that I don't allow myself to get caught up in because there's so much going on and so much on my plate during a game that you react and you do as the officials call it," Fitzpatrick said. "I thought from everything I saw that they did a fine job today."
There was more bad news for the Bills on their next possession as Jackson injured his right leg after a 7-yard run when he was tackled hard by LaRon Landry.
Spiller replaced him and got the Bills on the scoreboard, zipping past a few missed tackles by Landry and Bart Scott and scooting into the end zone for a career-best 56-yard score.
With the Jets' defense playing a bit sloppy, Johnson caught a 29-yard pass with just under 6 minutes left to get the Bills within two touchdowns. But Buffalo's onside-kick attempt went right into the hands of a waiting Tebow.
Notes: Kerley's punt return was the Jets' first for a score since Santana Moss in 2004 playoffs at Pittsburgh, ending the NFL's longest drought. ... Jets CB Antonio Cromartie banged up his left shoulder and had it wrapped after the game, but said he'll be fine. LB Bryan Thomas and WR Patrick Turner also left with hamstring injuries. ... The Bills' worst opening-game loss came in 1960, a 27-3 defeat against the New York Titans — the Jets' earlier incarnation.
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