Showing at 31 that he's still got much of that old "LT" spark in him, Tomlinson scored twice, broke the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time in nearly two seasons, and passed Tony Dorsett on the NFL rushing list. Add it up, and it was more than enough in a 38-14 rout of the winless Bills on Sunday.
And suddenly, there's no need to question Tomlinson if he's too old or was, perhaps, washed up after the San Diego Chargers cut him this offseason.
"I know what age I am. It doesn't mean I can't play," Tomlinson said. "I never lost confidence. I always knew I could do it. It was just about having an opportunity."
That opportunity came courtesy of Rex Ryan, the Jets coach, whom Tomlinson credited for having the confidence in him.
"You want to run through a brick wall for him," Tomlinson said.
The Bills' banged-up and porous run defense won't be mistaken for a brick wall, but it'll do.
Tomlinson and the Jets (3-1) combined for 273 yards rushing, while tight end Dustin Keller scored twice in exposing many of Buffalo's weaknesses to win their third straight, all against AFC East rivals.
New York blew the game open by scoring three times in a span of 3:29 on its first three possessions of the third quarter. The surge began with Keller scoring twice 1:33 apart to put the Jets up 31-7 with 4:36 left. Tomlinson then put it away 1:56 later on a 26-yard touchdown run, to go with his 1-yard plunge to open the game.
He finished with 133 yards rushing to register the 47th 100-yard game of his 10-year career -- and first since he had 105 on Oct. 26, 2008, when he was with San Diego.
"I thought he was going to be outstanding," Ryan said, referring to what he expected from Tomlinson when the Jets signed him. "But he's better than that."
The Bills, meantime, are playing well below even their own modest expectations. And the frustrations are beginning to show on a rebuilding team that's off to its third 0-4 start since 2001 and eighth overall.
"I'm calling out myself and I'm calling out my teammates," safety Donte Whitner said before expressing his anger further by using several profanities. "If we continue playing the way we've been playing, we're not going to get a win."
It looked that bad on both sides of the ball for Buffalo.
The defense allowed 444 yards, a week after allowing 445 -- including 200 yards rushing -- in a 38-30 loss to New England. Add in a 34-7 loss at Green Bay two weeks ago, and Buffalo's now allowed 30 or more points in three straight games for the first time since 2000.
The offense proved equally inept under Ryan Fitzpatrick, who made his second straight start, and first a week after the team cut former No. 1 quarterback Trent Edwards, who has since signed with Jacksonville.
Buffalo had 223 yards of offense -- or 50 fewer than the Jets had rushing. And Fitzpatrick finished with a team-best 74 yards rushing.
"We were a bad football team," first-year coach Chan Gailey said. "You play that way, you're not going to win. You're not going to look decent in this league. Today, we were awful."
Buffalo was so awful it managed 30 yards on its first four possessions, failed to register a first down on eight of 13 drives, and went 0-of-10 on third down.
For the Jets, Mark Sanchez completed 14 of 24 passes for 161 yards and two scores, and has yet to throw an interception in 103 attempts this season. Brad Smith, out of the Wildcat formation, added a 3-yard touchdown pass to Keller, who has five TDs this season.
Shonn Greene added 117 yards rushing against a defense that surrendered a combined 567 yards rushing to the Jets in two games last season.
Sanchez was unsatisfied, still unhappy with how the Jets opened the season with a 10-9 loss to Baltimore.
"Even now, I think we still feel like we could be 4-0," Sanchez said. "It's frustrating. We still want that first game."
Ryan was already looking ahead to next week, when the Jets host Minnesota with what he expects to be a more complete roster.
Receiver Santonio Holmes is set to return after completing his four-game NFL suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Ryan also said there's a good chance cornerback Darrelle Revis (hamstring) and Calvin Pace (foot) will be healthy to play.
Jets DE Shaun Ellis did not return after spraining his left knee in the third quarter, while S Eric Smith was sidelined with an illness. Ryan said he expects both to be fine. ... Bills rookie LB Arthur Moats will miss up to three weeks after hurting an elbow late in the fourth quarter, Gailey said. Backup CB Ashton Youboty hurt a leg. ... With 12,831 career yards rushing, Tomlinson opened the game 41 yards behind Dorsett on the NFL list. ... Tomlinson now has 141 touchdowns rushing, to move within 23 of Emmitt Smith. ... The Bills were without three defensive starters: DE Marcus Stroud (ankle), LB Andra Davis (shoulder) and CB Terrence McGee (knee). ... The Bills have allowed 150 or more yards rushing in 12 of their past 18 games.
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