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Miller's return pushes Jets past Bills

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Jan. 1, 2006) -- When Justin Miller started his high-flying act down the sideline, Buffalo looked on in disgust.

Miller scooted past every Bills player, speeding for a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 5:58 remaining to lift the Jets to a 30-26 victory. Ty Law sealed the victory with his third interception of the game, helping New York (4-12) end the season with some dignity.

"We've been through a horrific season," Jets coach Herman Edwards said. "It's not fun for the players, it's not fun for the organization. We just kept fighting. That's something to say about those men in that locker room."

The loss, however, was most undignified for the Bills (5-11), who came into the game yielding 18.6 yards per kickoff return -- tops in the NFL. It was the first time they gave up a kickoff return for a score since allowing two in an overtime loss to the Jets to open the 2002 season.

"I never imagined we'd lose the game on a touchdown, the way our unit had been playing," linebacker Mario Haggan said. "We came in with high hopes, but to give it up like that really hurts. Until we kick it off in 2006, this will be in the back of our minds."

Both organizations are probably happy the season is over. The injury-ravaged Jets must deal with a new round of questions on the status of Edwards, who affirmed his commitment to the team again despite speculation linking him to Kansas City.

Now that Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil has decided to retire, that link probably will keep gaining strength. Edwards might try to use the situation to lobby for a contract extension because he needs time to clean up the team.

As for Buffalo, coach Mike Mularkey, the subject of much criticism this season, is expected to stay but general manager Tom Donahoe could be out.

Mularkey said he wasn't concerned with his job security.

"I haven't been to this point and I'm not going to start now," Mularkey said. "I'm going to approach this job full speed ahead. I'll talk to all the players and get a good feel for their state of mind."

Law also could be out of New York, and if he played his last game with the Jets, he went out strong. His three interceptions brought his season total to 10, setting a career high and a record for most interceptions by a Jets cornerback. He also moved into third on the team's all-time single-season list.

Though Law took a hit to the head in the third quarter and was woozy, he insisted on returning to the game after sitting out a few series. The team's lone Pro Bowl selection, Law is expected to become a free agent in the offseason because he is due millions to trigger the remainder of his contract. The 11-year veteran is proud he was able to return from a broken right foot to have one of his most productive seasons.

"There was a lot of doubt if I'd be able to come back," Law said. "If there's a chance, I'd love to play with these guys again. We all know this is a business; it's something you can't control."

After Buffalo went ahead 26-23 on Rian Lindell's 36-yard field goal, Miller took the ensuing kickoff and tiptoed down the sideline, finally providing the special-teams score the Jets lacked all season. Buffalo had one final shot with 47 seconds left, but Law intercepted Kelly Holcomb's deep heave.

Miller said all he saw was "green and daylight. I saw all my teammates blocking and laying it on the line ... so it was my goal to get into the end zone."

Lindell had four field goals in all (21, 24, 52, 36), and Holcomb was 23-for-37 for 184 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.

Most of the first-half highlights came from the Jets defense, which got three interceptions. Law had two, and Mark Brown had the other, when the football landed into his arms after it bounced off fullback Daimon Shelton's shoes. Brown raced 33 yards for a touchdown to put the Jets ahead 17-6 early in the second quarter.

Though Buffalo came back, the Jets were able to hold on to end the season on a positive note.

"I don't want to be standing here next year talking about the character of the team," linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. "I want to be talking about winning and the playoffs."


Jets DE John Abraham had a sack, giving him 10½ sacks this season, his highest total since 13 in 2001.
Buffalo had four sacks, including two from DT Sam Adams.
Willis McGahee had 22 carries for 113 yards and went over 100 yards for the first time in eight games.
Mike Nugent added three field goals (49, 25, 34) for the Jets.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2006, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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