It wasn't anything special that made the night so special for Thurman Thomas and the Buffalo Bills.
No trickery. No fleaflickers. No outlandish, totally out of character maneuvers.It simply was a matter of the Bills executing to perfection in a 30-7 execution of the New York Jets on Monday night.
It was Thomas running wild for a pro career-high 214 yards, 11.9 yards a pop. It was the defense, led by Bruce Smith, shutting down New York's attack. It was total domination.
"It feels great doing it on national television," Smith said after the Bills moved into a tie for the AFC East lead with Miami at 2-1. "We wanted to make a statement about the Bills."
Thomas made the loudest statement, running through gaping holes for big yardage, including a 60-yard dash that was a personal NFL high, a 39-yarder and a 24-yarder.
"It's the old counter play," tackle Will Wolford said. "Everyone knows it, everyone uses it. I don't know why we were so successful with it.
"I don't know if this was the best I've ever seen a runner, but I can't remember another game when I looked downfield and saw our back still shaking and baking."
Thomas couldn't believe the size of the holes in the middle of the Jets defense, which had done well against the rush in its first two games.
"The offense came out with fire in their eyes and they just knocked huge holes in the defense," he said. "I never thought in the NFL I would be 20 yards downfield without ever being touched, just me and a safety,"
Nor did the Jets ever expect to be so overwhelmed on the ground. The Bills had 292 yards, their most in 12 years.
"It's unstoppable when you can't tackle in the gaps," Jets coach Bruce Coslet said. "I didn't think anybody could really physically manhandle us like that."
"They got us going in one direction, then cut back between the gaps," nose tackle Scott Mersereau said. "Every time Thomas made a cut, it seemed nobody was there. They definitely were more ready to play than we were."
It didn't look that way at the outset as the Jets sought to break a five-game losing streak against the Bills and establish themselves as a division contender in their first year of rebuilding under Coslet. New York went 75 yards in eight plays, helped by a 29-yard interference call on rookie James Williams in the end zone.
Brad Baxter scored from the 1, but it was the last time the Jets would score.
The Bills came right back with a 76-yard drive that featured a 43-yard pass from Jim Kelly to wide-open Keith McKeller that carried to the Jets' 1. Kenneth Davis scored on the next play.