First Quarter: Smith takes off
New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith didn’t run a lot in college at West Virginia. He only had four rushing touchdowns in his career.
However, Smith showed his good mobility on the Jets’ first drive, running 8 yards up the middle for a touchdown on a designed run from the shotgun formation.
Smith ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds before the draft, the fastest time among quarterbacks. The Bills’ EJ Manuel ran the second fastest time, 4.65 seconds.
Smith’s run capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive that came off the opening kickoff.
Key plays: Stephen Hill broke free down the right side of the field due to a broken coverage and caught a 45-yard pass on the first drive. … Fred Jackson broke a 59-yard run to the Jets’ 21 on the last play of the quarter, bouncing outside on a third-and-1 play.
Ball control: The Jets ran 21 plays to 11 for the Bills. Time of possession in the first quarter was 11:12 for New York and just 3:48 for Buffalo.
Key injury: The Bills lost cornerback Leodis McKelvin to a hamstring injury on the Jets’ fourth snap from scrimmage.
Second Quarter: All downhill
Jets second-year receiver Stephen Hill plays big against the Bills. Hill burned Bills cornerback Justin Rogers down the right sideline for a 51-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter.
Hill was a second-round pick out of Georgia Tech last season and had an uneven rookie year. He caught 21 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns. But two of the TDs came against the Bills.
Hill is 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 before the draft. The Bills’ T.J. Graham ran it in 4.41 seconds.
Hill’s TD catch put the Jets ahead, 14-6. Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams got pressure up the middle and knocked quarterback Geno Smith to the ground, but Rogers couldn’t keep up with Hill.
Key play: An interception by Jim Leonhard set up the Bills’ first field goal, a 37-yarder by Dan Carpenter. Carpenter added a 23-yarder later in the quarter.
Second-guess: The Bills were conservative in Manuel’s first road start. The first two drives started run-run by C.J. Spiller. On first and goal from the 10, the Jets were loaded up to stop the run and Fred Jackson plunged up the middle for a 1-yard loss.
Third Quarter: A pick-me-up
Kiko Alonso made a big play to keep the Bills alive in the third quarter. Alonso stepped in front of a slant pass by Jets quarterback Geno Smith and returned it 32 yards to the New York 13. The pickoff with 6:50 left in the quarter set up the Bills for a field goal that pulled them within 20-12.
Alonso already has shown himself to be a play-making upgrade over his predecessor, Kelvin Sheppard, who was traded to Indianapolis in the offseason. Alonso has two interceptions in three games. Sheppard had no interceptions, two sacks, no forced fumbles and one recovery in 32 games.
Key plays: The Jets took a 20-6 lead on a 34-yard Nick Folk field goal. Dan Carpenter booted field goals of 43 and 26 yards for the Bills.
Red zone woes: The Bills took possession after Alonso’s pickoff on the Jets’ 13. On first down, Fred Jackson ran off right tackle for 4 yards. On second down, the Bills ran Jackson again, but this time he was stopped for 1 yard. On third down, Manuel threw to the right on a slant for Stevie Johnson, but the pass was tipped.
Fourth Quarter: Holmes cooking
Santonio Holmes burned Justin Rogers for a 69-yard touchdown pass that proved to be the winning score Sunday.
Rogers never looked back for the ball on a pass down the right sideline and Holmes hauled in the deep pass from Geno Smith. It gave the Jets a 27-20 lead with 9:23 left in the game.
Holmes, 30, missed most of last season due to a serious Lisfranc fracture of his foot. He was the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XLIII for Pittsburgh, catching the winning touchdown pass in the final minutes against Arizona.
Holmes’ 15.4-yards-per catch average ranks 13th best among active players. But he has not put up big numbers in the Jets’ limited pass offense the past three-plus seasons. He managed only 654 receiving yards in 2011.
Key plays: The Bills pulled within 20-18 on a 33-yard touchdown pass from EJ Manuel to Scott Chandler. Manuel’s two-point conversion pass to Stevie Johnson tied the game, 20-20.
Flag football: New York finished with a team-record 20 penalties for 168 yards. The Jets were called for five penalties alone on Buffalo’s fourth-quarter touchdown drive.
Key stats: The Jets have won four straight at home against the Bills.