- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: With a three-game winning streak, the New York Jets have risen to the NFL's elite. By trouncing the overmatched Buffalo Bills, 38-14, they avoided the dreaded "trap," proving themselves as a mature, focused team. The Mark Sanchez-led offense is on a roll, and now hear this: wide receiver Santonio Holmes returns from his four-game suspension -- a case of the rich getting richer. Everything is clicking for the Jets, who improved to 3-0 in the AFC East for the first time since 2000.
What's next: The Jets are back on prime-time TV, facing the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night at the New Meadowlands Stadium. It will be the Jets' third night game in five weeks. Get ready for a week of Brett Favre hype. How will Jets fans greet him? He was hailed as a savior when he arrived in Aug. 2008 in a trade with the Green Bay Packers. By the time he left, he was vilified as a washed-up gunslinger who cost the Jets a playoff spot. It was later revealed that Favre played the final few games with a torn biceps tendon, which contributed to his woeful performance down the stretch.
The Jets returned to their smash-mouth roots, amassing 273 yards on the ground. So much for them becoming a pass-oriented team under the streaking Sanchez. On this day, the Jets kept it simple, knowing they could dominate the Bills at the point of attack. The offensive line enjoyed its best performance of the season, evoking memories of last season's monster rushing days. The Bills played without two defensive starters in their front seven, but does anybody think that would've made a difference?
LaDainian Tomlinson (133 yards) and Shonn Greene (117) did a number on the Bills' overmatched run defense. Tomlinson, continuing his rebirth, also scored two touchdowns -- the 25th time in his career that he has scored twice and hit the 100-yard mark. Only one other player in history has turned the rare double that many times: Jim Brown (25). Tomlinson's signature play was a 26-yard touchdown run, a play during which he made safety Donte Whitner look silly with a vintage cut to his left. After a sluggish start to the season, Greene finally showed his '09 form, an encouraging development.
With the running game chewing up big chunks and allowing the Jets to control the clock, Sanchez wasn't required to do a whole lot. To his credit, he didn't force anything. Think back to a year ago: In a home game against the Bills, Sanchez threw a career-high five interceptions and the Jets wasted a 300-yard rushing day. For the fourth straight game, he had no turnovers. His best play might have been the 41-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards, using a pump-fake to make cornerback Leodis McKelvin bite on an "out-and-up" route.
The only real negative for the Jets was a left-knee injury to defensive end Shaun Ellis on a third-quarter sack. He was done for the day. The Jets absolutely can't afford another serious injury on the defensive line. Based on the early indications, it doesn't appear serious. Ellis remained on the bench for the remainder of the game and was able to walk around -- positive signs. Vernon Gholston replaced Ellis, with newly-signed DE Trevor Pryce playing a handful of snaps in his Jets debut.
In an attempt to solve their communication issues in two-minute situations, the defensive backs wore play sheets on color-coded wristbands. The wristbands were unveiled last week in Miami. Maybe it's time for a new method. On a two-minute drive at the end of the first half (seven plays, 64 yards), the secondary surrendered three straight completions for 52 yards. Tight end David Martin was uncovered on a four-yard rainbow pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick, a busted coverage. Otherwise, the secondary played well -- particularly Antonio Cromartie, who held Lee Evans (one catches for six yards) to a quiet day.
What it means: With a three-game winning streak, the New York Jets have risen to the NFL's elite. By trouncing the overmatched Buffalo Bills, 38-14, they avoided the dreaded "trap," proving themselves as a mature, focused team.