It looked like it was going to be one of those days for the Jets.
Their first drive was a 10-minute masterpiece in which the offense looked like they had discovered something wonderful over the bye week, a feeling that went away the second Mark Sanchez threw a terrible interception in the end zone. The second drive saw the team move the ball well again, but a flurry of penalties meant that no points came the Jets' way.
And that would be the story for the rest of the half. Nick Folk got a field goal, but the Jets turned the ball over again and generally wasted a spirited defensive effort on their way to the locker room with a slim 3-0 lead and ominous portents for what would happen the rest of the way.
The bad things prophesized in the first half never materialized, though. The offense found its footing after halftime, the defense played in vintage form and the Jets wound up winning by the comfortable score of 27-11 in a game that they absolutely needed to have to make a run at both the division title and a playoff spot this season.
Style points don't count for much, but the way the Jets won was a sign that such dreams are not misplaced. Shonn Greene ran the ball well, Sanchez made big plays to Plaxico Burress and Dustin Keller, and the line gave him ample time to throw just about every time he dropped back to pass.
Even Santonio Holmes, who has been unhappy about his role, got something to smile about. He only caught three passes, but drew two pass interference penalties in the end zone to set up touchdowns and caught a scoring pass to help the Jets to their first road win of the year against a divisional rival that looks a lot less imposing in the wake of this performance.
As good as the offense looked for long stretches, the Jets are going to go as far as their defense takes them and the defense on Sunday is one that can take them a long way. They forced three turnovers, harassed the normally accurate Ryan Fitzpatrick into a terrible game and totally shut down Buffalo's do-everything back Fred Jackson.
Something happened at halftime of the victory over San Diego to turn a light on for this defense, because they have now played six terrific quarters in a row to vault the Jets back into the thick of the divisional race. The only Buffalo touchdown Sunday came when the game was already decided and there wasn't a moment during the meaningful portion of the game when it looked like the Bills would seriously threaten to score a touchdown.
That's the Jets style we grew to love over the last two seasons and it is the style that is going to take them wherever they go this season. Right now, it has them headed to a showdown for first place at home against the Patriots next week and there's nowhere else they'd rather be.