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INJURIES MAKE A BAD DAY WORSE

A bad day for the Buffalo Bills was made even worse as tight end Jay Riemersma and linebackers Corey Moore and John Holecek left Giants Stadium with potentially serious injuries.

Coach Wade Phillips said Riemersma suffered a jammed left knee, although Riemersma said it was sprained. Moore, who started at right outside linebacker because Sam Rogers was out with a bruised shoulder, sprained an ankle in the second quarter covering a punt. Holecek sprained his knee in the fourth quarter and was replaced by rookie Kenyatta Wright.

The diagnosis for the players is preliminary. The severity of their injuries won't be known until they undergo a magnetic resonance imaging examination today.

Holecek was able to walk off the field under his own power, but Riemersma and Moore were on crutches after the game.

Riemersma's left leg was placed in an immobilizer, and appears to be the most serious.

"I've never had a knee injury," he said. "I'm hoping that MRI comes back negative and I'll be able to do some things as quickly as possible. I just don't know, to be perfectly honest."

Riemersma was hurt on the Bills' first offensive possession. He keyed the scoring drive with three catches for 48 yards, including a leaping one-handed grab for 13 yards to the Jets' 6-yard line. However, he was injured on the next snap.

"I was blocking (on a running play), and I was engaged with a guy and a guy came and hit me from the side and I felt something pop," Riemersma said. "I felt like I was contributing on that first drive. I told my wife, I called her and let her know why I was out of the game, that might have been my best first quarter ever.

"It's frustrating if that's the way it had to end, but I've got a bye week to get ready and kind of heal up. Hopefully, I'll take advantage of that. It would be nice if we had about a three-week bye. Unfortunately, we don't have those."

The Jets' kickoff return for a touchdown was the first against the Bills in the regular season since Derrick Cullors took one 86 yards for New England on Nov. 9, 1997 at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Everyone knows about the infamous return by Tennessee, but that occurred in the playoffs.

Ironically, the Jets' return man was Kevin Williams, but not the one who used to return kicks for the Bills. That Kevin Williams, who was released prior to the April draft, is now in San Francisco.

Jets cornerback Marcus Coleman on his 45-yard Hail Mary touchdown catch just before halftime: "We work on it every Friday. It's a planned play. I was surprised there was nobody in front of me. I think it hurt them pretty bad. I can jump the highest and I'm pretty tall (6-foot-2). It feels good that they want to use me in certain situations."

This wasn't the first time the Jets burned the Bills with a Hail Mary pass. Boomer Esiason connected with Adrian Murrell on a 41-yarder here on Nov. 19, 1995.

Bills place-kicker Steve Christie didn't have any kind words about the grass surface at Giants Stadium. The artificial turf was removed during the offseason. The new field already has some wear and tear, and may have contributed to his 43-yard field goal attempt being blocked.

"My foot slipped a lot, about half a foot, and left a big pile in the ground," Christie said. "I could have put an umbrella in it and set up a picnic. I still almost made (the field goal). But I don't know where it went. I don't know if it went low or not.

"The field was awful. Why bother? Just keep the AstroTurf. They put sand down before the game and painted it green."

Jets center Kevin Mawae added, "It's like playing on Jones Beach (on Long Island). In the preseason, it was in good shape. Now it's like a sand pit out there."

The Bills vehemently protested an illegal formation penalty on tackle Marcus Spriggs, which nullified a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Rob Johnson. The officials ruled that Spriggs failed to report as an extra blocker on the end of the line.

"He reported," Phillips said. "They told me it's a possibility. They were enforcing the (defensive pass interference) penalty and didn't hear him."

Apparently no one told offensive line coach Carl Mauck that Spriggs did report. Mauck barked at Spriggs for several minutes on the sideline until the offense bailed him out by scoring.

Johnson's 74-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy McDaniel was the longest completion of his career. Johnson had a 66-yard score at New Orleans on Dec. 27, 1998.

Counting Buffalo's win in an AFC wild-card playoff game in 1981, Sunday's game was the 80th in the series between the teams, dating to 1960 when they competed in the American Football League.

The Bills own a 44-35 regular-season advantage on the strength of 19 wins in the last 26 meetings. That includes season sweeps in 1995 through 1997. However, the Jets have won four of the last five matchups.

The Jets had their 175th consecutive sellout, dating to Dec. 17, 1978 (against Dallas). . . . Bills inactives were Rogers, guard Joe Panos (sprained foot), defensive end Shawn Price (hyperextended knee), linebacker DaShon Polk, wide receiver Avion Black, offensive tackle Jon Carman and defensive tackle Leif Larsen. . . . The last Jets kickoff return for a touchdown was 101 yards by Leon Johnson against Tampa Bay on Dec. 14, 1997. . . . Jets punter Tom Tupa had a 70-yarder, the second-longest of his career since a 73-yarder at Denver for New England in 1997.

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