Call them the Ready for Prime Time Bills.
The Buffalo Bills, making their first Monday night appearance in 4 years, routed the New York Jets, 37-14, as Jim Kelly passed for 302 yards and 3 touchdowns.
“This was for recognition and respect,” Kelly said after leading the Bills to a 31-7 halftime lead. “Jim Kelly has never been on Monday Night Football, we have a lot of younger players who haven’t been on. We wanted to prove we can play with anybody.”
Kelly completed 12 of 16 passes for 261 yards in the first half. He threw 2 touchdown passes to Andre Reed, who leads the AFC with 42 receptions, on plays of 65 and 16 yards. The other was a 66-yarder to Flip Johnson, the first reception of his pro career.
The Bills (6-1), who are 2 games ahead of second-place Miami in the AFC East, scored on their first 5 possessions.
After Scott Norwood capped a 59-yard drive with a 30-yard field goal, Kelly connected with Reed and Johnson on long touchdown passes for a 17-0 first-quarter lead.
“Definitely a big motivation to us was to show the whole United States you can play,” Reed said. “This couldn’t have come on a better night, before a prime-time national audience. Now a lot of people know what Buffalo can do.”
The Jets (3-3-1), who played without 3 injured starters--tight end Mickey Shuler, tackle Dave Cadigan and linebacker Alex Gordon--lost their second straight game.
Jet running back Nuu Faaola was carried off the field on a stretcher after he was injured on a punt return late in the game. He suffered a severely bruised neck and was hospitalized overnight for observation.
“They got on us right away and we got beat bad by a good football team,” Jet Coach Joe Walton said. “You can’t get angry with a young team. You have to be patient.”
Reed beat a bump at the line by Bobby Humphery, sped down the right sideline and took Kelly’s perfect pass in stride for the first touchdown of the game.
Buffalo got lucky on its next score. Kelly’s 3rd-and-10 pass toward Robb Riddick was tipped into the air by safety Carl Howard. The ball went directly to Johnson, who eluded a tackle and scored.
The Bills made it 24-0, 44 seconds into the quarter, driving 45 yards in 7 plays and scoring on Riddick’s 1-yard dive.
Reed, who got his second touchdown in the second quarter, had 7 catches for 132 yards.
While the Bills were tearing apart New York’s defense, the Buffalo pass rush was overrunning the Jets’ blockers. Bruce Smith had 2 1/2 sacks, and the Jets gained just 14 yards in the first quarter.