EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - This was one frantic finish the New York Jets might consider a turning point if they end up pulling off another late-season playoff push.
Mark Sanchez threw a career-high four touchdown passes, including the winning 16-yard score to Santonio Holmes with just over a minute remaining, as the Jets kept pace in the AFC playoff race with a 28-24 comeback victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
"He's at his best," coach Rex Ryan said of his quarterback, "in big moments."
And, this was certainly one of them. One win down. Five more to go.
Week 12 in the NFL
"It was crazy," Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said of the catch. "He's 6-foot-5 and he's got those `Go-Go-Gadget' arms. It was probably one of the best catches I've seen in a while."
Added Sanchez: "I don't know if words could do it any justice. It was a big-time catch in a crucial situation."
Sanchez quickly ran a quarterback sneak - just to make sure there was no challenge, even though replays showed Burress caught it cleanly. On the next play, Sanchez rolled out to his right to buy some time and found Holmes alone in the right corner of the end zone to give the Jets the lead with 1:01 left.
"I felt good," Sanchez said of his confidence entering the winning drive. "We've been in that situation before."
But the Jets then had to overcome a valiant comeback attempt by the Bills (5-6), who have lost four straight. With Buffalo driving for a winning score, a wide-open Stevie Johnson dropped a pass that would have gone for a long gain. Ryan Fitzpatrick also threw behind Johnson in the end zone with 8 seconds left that might have been a touchdown.
"It's hard," Fitzpatrick said. "They scored at the end and we had a legitimate four chances to get it in there in the end zone and unfortunately we were unable to make the plays. It hurts real bad."
Sanchez wasn't great in this one, going 17 of 35 for 180 yards and an interception, but came through with the game on the line. It was his eighth fourth-quarter comeback victory in two-plus seasons. He also threw two touchdown passes to Dustin Keller and another to Burress as the Jets rebounded from a disappointing loss to Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos 10 days ago.
"Defensively, the one thing we can say is we finished," Ryan said.
Fitzpatrick was 26 of 39 for 264 yards and three touchdowns, but couldn't pull out one more in the end. Buffalo played without several injured starters, including Fred Jackson and George Wilson.
Johnson had one of the Bills' touchdown catches late in the first half and got up and mocked being shot in the thigh, clearly making fun of Burress who served 20 months in prison for shooting himself in the leg in a nightclub in 2008 while he was with the Giants. Johnson then ran to the left side of the end zone mocking the "flight" celebration the Jets often use after scoring and fell to the ground, getting flagged 15 yards for excessive celebration on the play that gave Buffalo a 14-7 lead.
CSN: Brian Urlacher, who played 13 seasons for the Bears, announced his retirement from football Wenesday on his personal twitter account.
2013 SNF Schedule
Check out the 2013 Sunday Night Football schedule.
Latest from ProFootballTalk
Video: Football from NBC Sports
Jets 'throwing the kitchen sink at the offense'
Jets coach Rex Ryan talks to the media following Wednesday's OTAs and says New York's defense is much further along than the offense, but they're throwing everything they can at the offense to get them ready for Week 1.
Check out some of the NFL cheerleaders from across the league.