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For One Day, the Jets Put All the Madness Behind Them

The Jets had scored just one touchdown in the first preseason games, with none from the first (or second) units. Mark Sanchez was mocking the Jets owner for signing Tim Tebow just to sell tickets. The Buffalo Bills were the trendy AFC wild-card pick, a far more stable and disciplined team than the out-of-control Jets. Rex Ryan had lost control of his team and was now, like the rest of his guys, just a clown. The narratives were all set for the Jets, and you can make a pretty good case that the entire football world was not only expecting them to implode immediately, but cheering for it. Even the stands weren't 80 percent full at kickoff yesterday. And then, as if none of this offseason had ever happened ... they went out and jumped out to a 34–7 lead and looked dominant in a way they haven't in more than a year. It ended up a 48–28 win over Buffalo. It was really something to see.

On a day when just about everything went right — including an opportunistic defense that forced three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and a fumble, and a punt return for a touchdown — the story, of course, was Sanchez, who played pretty much the best game we've seen him play as a Jet at the best possible time. After a horrific, "uh what?" shovel pass interception in the first quarter, Sanchez was essentially perfect, ending up with 19-of-27 passing for 266 yards and three touchdowns. He was threading needles on out patterns and hitting guys in stride deep. He didn't seem the least bit distracted when he would occasionally run off the field for a series of "Wildcat" plays with Tim Tebow that provided diminishing returns. He looked like the franchise quarterback the Jets have been desperately waiting for him to become.

“I knew we were capable of scoring points,” Sanchez said afterwards. “Did I know it was 48 points? No, I didn’t necessarily know that.”

It was also impressive how many weapons emerged for Sanchez. Stephen Hill, the rookie a few people were excited about, caught two touchdown passes, Jeremy Kerley caught another (and returned a punt for a touchdown), and Santonio Holmes even caught a few passes without grousing about it. The Jets offensive line protected Sanchez all day — the Bills aren't exactly doing backflips this morning about all the money they paid Mario Williams — and, well, it was pretty much just an ideal day in every possible way. The only things the Jets didn't do well on offense occurred when Tebow was behind center (and, for the opening play of the game, at tight end). That would be a bigger deal had everything not else gone so splendidly.

We said last week that in many ways, this was the most important game of the season for the Jets. Obviously, there's a long way to go, and the beginning of the schedule is very tough. But the Jets needed to avoid becoming what everyone thought they would be, what everyone sorta wanted them to be, in Week One. They did that and so much more. It's a long season, and there's not much more fun than overreacting after one win. Still: These Jets might be all right after all.

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Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images