By DENNIS WASZAK Jr., Associated Press
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — One touchdown after another, the New York Jets eased all those preseason concerns about their low-scoring offense.
With a whole lot of Mark Sanchez, a sprinkling of Tim Tebow and a dominant first-half effort by the defense, New York manhandled the Buffalo Bills, routing their AFC East rivals 48-28 in the season opener Sunday.
Rex Ryan passed on a chance to say, "We told you so" to all of his team's critics and doubters. So did Sanchez, and Tebow, too.
"Vindication, chip on our shoulder, maybe that's not the right things," Ryan said. "We were just excited to play."
And, they looked it.
Sanchez threw three touchdown passes, including two to rookie Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley had a touchdown catch and a punt return for a score, and Antonio Cromartie took one of New York's three interceptions of Ryan Fitzpatrick to the end zone.
"It's a great win, there's no doubt about it," Sanchez said. "But, we've got lots of work to do."
That's from a team — labeled by some a "circus" for its penchant for making offseason headlines, namely acquiring Tebow — 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.
"It looked like we were making up for lost time there," Sanchez said.
Added Kerley: "We knew what we could do. We just showed the world today."
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 scoring run.
"He definitely turned it on today," Kerley said of Sanchez. "I think there's always a big target on Mark's back and I think he likes it. He's a guy we trust and know what he's capable each week, and he showed it today."
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. The video board quickly flashed a sign: "Quiet! Offense At Work!"
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. It doesn't appear Revis has a concussion, though.
Perhaps the only other thing that went wrong came early in the fourth quarter when 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 Bills defensive end Mario Williams — who was a non-factor against a Jets offensive line that protected Sanchez throughout and gave him plenty of time to throw. Williams finished with just one tackle.
"As quick as the points got on the board, yeah, definitely," Williams said when asked if he was surprised by what New York did. "I didn't think you would see that lopsided a turnover battle. They got them and we didn't get turnovers on the defense."
Sanchez finished 19 of 27 for 266 yards and the three scores and an interception, and was not sacked.
"They kept me upright," Sanchez said of his offensive line, "and that helps."
Tebow wasn't used that much by the Jets, but added a tricky element to the offense and finished with five rushes for 11 yards and didn't throw a pass.
"After a little bit, we didn't show too much," Tebow said of the wildcat plays. "We were able to get in there and have some efficient plays."
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.
"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 Jets opened the game to loud cheers as both Sanchez and Tebow took the field, with the backup quarterback lined up as a slot receiver. Three plays later, Tebow took the snap with Sanchez lined up at wide receiver and handed to Joe McKnight for a 3-yard run.