ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Some teams turn conservative in the shadow of their own goalposts. Not the New York Jets.
Ken O'Brien threw three touchdown passes, one coming on a team-record 96-yard play to Wesley Walker, to ignite the New York Jets to a 27-7 victory over the Buffalo Bills Sunday.
"We were backed up there pretty tight," Jet Coach Joe Walton said. "I thought it was the right time and the right situation to try for the long gainer."
O'Brien threw a scoring pass to tight end Mickey Shuler 52 seconds into the second quarter to give the Jets a 7-0 lead.
On the first play of New York's next possession, O'Brien found a streaking Walker behind three defenders at midfield. Walker easily outran his pursuers to set a Jet record for the longest pass play, breaking the mark of 91 yards, from Joe Namath to Rich Caster in 1975.
"That second touchdown scored on us took the wind out of our sails," Bill Coach Hank Bullough said.
New York (10-4) remained in a three-way tie with the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots for first place in the AFC East.
O'Brien, taking advantage of an injury-riddled Buffalo secondary, threw for 273 yards in the first half. He finished with 25 completions in 40 attempts for 370 yards.
Shuler caught a two-yard scoring pass late in the game and Johnny Hector ran 13 yards for a the other Jet touchdown.
Buffalo's Bruce Mathison was twice knocked from the game by defensive end Mark Gastineau, but not before becoming the second quarterback to pass for more than 300 yards in a game against the Jets. He finished with 357 yards passing.
Mathison left the game early in the fourth quarter after a crushing hit by Gastineau, but he returned after missing only one play. He was again forced to the sidelines late in the game after being hit by Gastineau and Joe Klecko, but returned to action after sitting out one play.
Mathison was replaced both times by Frank Reich, a rookie from Maryland.