ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Abram Elam was growing tired while the New York Jets defense was on the field for what seemed like forever: After all, 15 minutes off the game clock is a long time for any defender.
The impressive thing was, not only did the safety and his teammates prevent the Buffalo Bills from scoring during that prolonged stretch in the first half, they actually scored the go-ahead points in helping secure a 26-17 win Sunday.
"It was big," Elam said. "It was a big momentum swing to keep them from getting points and put points on the board for our team."
It started with Elam, who returned an interception 92 yards for a touchdown. Barely having time to catch his breath, Elam was back on the field helping the Jets stop the Bills on their next drive when Kris Jenkins stuffed Fred Jackson, who was attempting to convert a fourth-and-1 at the Jets 8.
It was a pivotal defensive stand that sparked a sudden turn of events in which the Bills went from threatening to build on a 7-6 lead, to finding themselves down 13-7 despite controlling the ball during a 15:08 span in which they rattled off 27 plays for 114 yards.
Jenkins registered two of the Jets' five sacks, while Darrelle Revis also had an interception.
"It was a tough situation," Jenkins said. "I'm going to be honest with you, I'm a pretty big guy. And you get kind of tired out there when you're out there for a long time. But we kept bouncing back and kept fighting."
And suddenly, the AFC East race is a whole lot tighter with the Jets (5-3) catching the division rival Bills (5-3). Things don't get easier for Buffalo, which was coming off a 25-16 loss at Miami, and completes its three-game intra-division stretch at New England next week.
The Bills can only blame themselves. They've dropped three of four and squandered any of the momentum they had generated after getting off to a 4-0 start.
"Losing the last two games is hard. There's nowhere to hide," said Bills cornerback Jabari Greer, who briefly made the game close early in the fourth quarter, when he returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown. "No matter what we've done before, having that two-game losing streak, the taste in your mouth can easily become something if that's not corrected. It can change the whole mind-set of the season."
At least the Bills' defense held up for the most part. Buffalo, instead, was undone by yet another sloppy offensive performance.
Trent Edwards finished 24-of-35 for 289 yards with a touchdown, two interceptions and a lost fumble, which led directly to the Jets scoring 10 points.
"For the most part, we're kind of beating ourselves," Edwards said. "The only finger I'm pointing is at myself."
That's quite a departure for the second-year starter, who had looked poised and confident in leading Buffalo to three consecutive fourth-quarter comeback victories earlier this season. After committing four turnovers (two fumbles, two interceptions) in his first five games, Edwards has committed five (three interceptions and two fumbles) and allowed a safety in his past two.
Rookie tight end Derek Fine scored on a 9-yard touchdown reception, but the Bills' offense was mostly stymied. It didn't help that running back Marshawn Lynch missed the second quarter experiencing nausea after he attempted to chase down Elam during the interception return.
The Jets' offense wasn't entirely perfect, but did a better job of playing efficiently.
Thomas Jones scored on a 7-yard run and Brett Favre rebounded from having an interception returned for a score for the second straight week.
Favre, who threw three interceptions before securing a 28-24 win over Kansas City last weekend, went 19-of-28 for 201 yards. He responded from the interception against Buffalo by producing a 14-play, 65-yard drive that ate up nearly 9 minutes and ended with Jay Feely hitting a 31-yard field goal.
"I was nervous, to be honest," Favre said, describing his mood after taking the field following the interception. "That drive was one of the most important for us offensively all year, not only because it helped us win the game, it was a statement drive, not only to the other team but to ourselves."
Notes: Favre earned his first win at Ralph Wilson Stadium after going 0-3 in his previous three visits with Green Bay. That leaves 10 places Favre has yet to win, including Texas Stadium, where he's 0-6. ... The interception by Greer was the 300th of Favre's career. ... Bills right guard Jason Whittle, filling in for injured starter Brad Butler, was hurt and did not return in the fourth quarter. Coach Dick Jauron declined to discuss the nature of the injury. Whittle had strained his left quadriceps last weekend. ... Feely made four of five attempts, missing wide left from 37 yards.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press