Bills doomed by Martin, turnovers


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- It wasn't pretty. The New York Jets
didn't care.

Is the Jets defense good enough to make a playoff run?

Right now, I don't think so. Coming into this game against Buffalo, the Jets
defense was ranked last against the rush. If you can't stop the rush,
you're not going anywhere in this league. The Jets will have to play much
better on defense to have a chance at the playoffs. Offensively, they're
starting to spread the ball around a little bit and do some more creative
things -- which they needed to do. But defensively they're not there yet.

ESPN.com NFL analyst Vinny Cerrato has served as director of player
personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.


After all the criticism heaped on them last week, they found
reassurance in Sunday's sloppy 42-36 victory over the bumbling
Buffalo Bills.

"We were able to get the victory. And we needed it. For myself,
it's like we lifted the hex, lifted the curse," running back
Curtis Martin said. "Just for confidence. We all want to keep the
hope alive and keep the faith. But if you keep losing, it starts to

Martin scored two touchdowns and rushed for 135 yards on 20
carries in a breakout performance for the Jets' much-maligned
offense. New York's defense also showed flashes despite the final

After allowing 233 yards rushing in last Monday's 19-17 loss to
San Francisco, the Jets responded by forcing four turnovers that
led to New York touchdowns, including John Abraham's 4-yard and Mo Lewis' 15-yard fumble returns.

"The defense played great. It was exciting to see them bounce
back from last week," quarterback Vinny Testaverde said. "They
wanted to show everybody that they were better than what they were
last week, and they came out. What more can you ask for than
putting 14 points up for your offense?"

The Jets (2-2) survived a couple of comeback threats led by
Buffalo backup quarterback Alex Van Pelt, who took over after
starter Rob Johnson pinched a nerve in his back when he was elbowed
by linebacker Mo Lewis late in the first quarter.

Van Pelt threw for three touchdowns, his first in four years,
and almost brought the Bills back from a 28-9 deficit.

The Bills (0-4) are off to their worst start since going 0-6 in
1985. Buffalo has lost five straight at home for the first time
since 1984, and they have been outscored 132-61 in that stretch,
dating back to last season.

More disturbing, the Jets scored the most points in Buffalo
since the Bills lost 47-6 to Indianapolis in a game featuring
replacement players during the strike-shortened 1987 season.

The Bills rallied to cut New York's lead to 28-22 when Van Pelt
hit Peerless Price for a 70-yard touchdown to start the third

New York responded with two touchdowns -- Anthony Becht's 2-yard
reception and Lewis' 15-yard fumble return -- in a span of 64
seconds to seal the victory.

Larry Centers scored twice in the final five minutes, including
a 6-yard reception with 7 seconds remaining.

The Bills took solace in that they didn't give up. The 36 points
were one more than they scored in three previous games combined.

"That's definitely a game we could've and should've won," said
Van Pelt, who finished 23-for-41 for 268 yards. "If we don't shoot
ourselves in the foot there early, and then have a fumble returned
for a touchdown, we're in that game and winning."

With the Bills entering their bye week, Johnson expects to be
back in for Buffalo's next game, Oct. 18 at Jacksonville.

He was hurt at the end of a 17-yard scramble. As Johnson was
sliding to the turf, Lewis caught him squarely across the helmet
with an elbow.

No penalty was issued against Lewis. Loud boos went up at Ralph
Wilson Stadium when a replay of the hit was shown on the video

"That was pretty vicious," Van Pelt said. "I can't believe
there wasn't a flag."

Lewis said the hit wasn't intentional, saying that Johnson
popped up from his slide at the last moment.

"No one's trying to hurt anyone," Lewis said. "I don't know
if the turf caught him, but he popped back up as I was going over
the top of him."

The hit on Johnson was the only blemish against Lewis, who had a
dominating performance, finishing with 13 tackles, one sack and a
forced fumble.

"You can't say this is a stepping stone. It's just one of those
games that we had a lot of plays and we had a lot of opportunities
that fell our way," Lewis said. "We can't look at it and say
that, 'We have arrived.' We haven't. We've got to continue to

Game notes
Martin passed Matt Snell and Johnny Hector to become the
Jets' third leading rusher with 8,150 yards. ... Before leaving the
game, Johnson hit Eric Moulds for a 46-yard touchdown pass, the
Bills' first at home this season. ... Testaverde, deeply affected
by last month's terrorist attacks in New York City, said it was
difficult to play knowing that U.S. Forces began bombing
Afghanistan three hours before the game. "My immediate thought was
to refocus and concentrate on what I had to do, which was tough,"
he said. "It was distracting."


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