EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- So this is what the New York Jets were hiding throughout their winless preseason.
No, not the Wildcat. Touchdowns.
The Jets followed up the NFL's longest preseason drought in 35 years with the greatest season-opening explosion in team history in a 48-28 win over the Buffalo Bills Sunday in front of 79,088 Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Mark Sanchez threw three touchdown passes, including two to rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill, and Jets scored on defense and special teams as well in setting a franchise record for most points scored in week one.
"You talk about record-setting offense -- we know the record that we set in the preseason, which everybody pointed out," Jets coach Rex Ryan said with a grin. "I couldn't be happier for our football team."
The Bills suffered their most lopsided season-opening defeat since a 34-13 loss to the Vikings in 1997.
"It hurts, it's no fun, it's awful -- all of the above," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "This is a cliche, I understand that, but it's one of 16. If you win enough to get in the playoffs, this is a learning experience. If you don't, it was the start of something bad."
The Bills may have absorbed a pair of even bigger losses after running back Fred Jackson and wide receiver David Nelson each exited the game with knee injuries. Both players will undergo MRIs Monday, but Gailey said he expects worse news from Nelson than Jackson.
The most impressive thing about Sunday for the Jets is they could have scored even more points. The Jets' first drive ended when Sanchez threw an ill-advised interception just beyond midfield.
"I was thinking we should bench him," Ryan said to uproarious laughter.
Sanchez' job security has been a constant issue in New York since the Jets acquired Tim Tebow in March, and it didn't help Sanchez that he was the face of a beleaguered offense that didn't score a touchdown in the preseason until third-stringers got into the end zone against the Eagles in the exhibition finale. The Jets were the first team since the 1977 Atlanta Falcons to go without a touchdown in its first three preseason games.
But Sanchez recovered from the early interception Sunday to not only quiet the concerns about the offense but do what nobody else could do the last six months: turn Tebow and the Wildcat into a non-story.
Sanchez was 20-of-28 for 266 yards and led five straight scoring drives following his interception as the Jets took a 41-7 lead.
"I knew we were really close in the preseason," Sanchez said. "Did I know it was 48 points? I didn't necessarily know that, but that's just a great day of execution. And we still left some plays out there, so it wasn't perfect."
Tebow, meanwhile, made his much-anticipated debut as the Jets' Wildcat quarterback on the fourth play of the game but ended the game with just 12 yards on five carries.
Tebow was even the subject of a few boos when he rushed for no gain on second down from the Bills' 12-yard line late in the second quarter. He garnered some cheers with 5:58 left, though, when he recovered an on sidekick by the Bills.
"Sometimes it's about preparation -- as much time as that team spends on the Wildcat, maybe it took away from some other preparation," Ryan said. "We have that ability. Certainly, we can do a lot more out of it as well."
Hill had five catches for 89 yards in his NFL debut. Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, who missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury, scored two touchdowns, one on a 12-yard catch from Sanchez that put the Jets up 7-0 and the second on a 68-yard punt return that extended the lead to 21-0. Kerley is the first player in team history to score on a punt return and catch a touchdown pass in the same game.
The Jets led 27-7 at the half and cornerback Antonio Cromartie iced the game on the Bills' first drive of the second half when he picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick and raced 40 yards for the touchdown.
"I had a pretty good feeling that we were going to play well," Ryan said. "I told the guys the night before the game that I had that kind of confidence. They know I might not always be right, but they also know that I don't tell them something that I don't believe. And I really thought we were going to have a big game."
Fitzpatrick threw three touchdown passes in the second half as the Bills closed within 41-28, but he was also picked off three times. C.J. Spiller had 14 carries for a career-high 169 yards and a career-long 56-yard touchdown for the Bills.
Notes: The Jets retired Curtis Martin's No. 28 at halftime. Martin, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in July, opened his career with 10 straight 1,000-yard seasons and retired as the fourth-leading rusher in NFL history with 14,101 yards. He played his final eight seasons with the Jets. ... The Jets improved to 24-29 in season openers while the Bills fell to 21-32. The Jets are 7-3 against the Bills in season openers. ... Kerley's punt return for a touchdown was the Jets' first since Santana Moss took one back 52 yards against the Redskins Nov. 3, 2002. ... Fitzpatrick threw at least three interceptions for the fourth time in his last nine starts. He threw three picks against the Cowboys Nov. 13 and the Dolphins Dec. 18 and four interceptions against the Patriots Jan. 1.
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