Buffalo will turn its pass rush loose on its favorite patsy tonight when the "bickering" Bills visit the new, improved New York Jets in a prime-time encounter at the Meadowlands (9 p.m., Ch. 13).
The Bills (1-1) swept last year's series with the Jets by a combined 71-3 score. Furthermore, they have won the last five meetings between the two AFC East rivals, and the pass rush was instrumental. Right end Bruce Smith had nine sacks in the streak and outside linebacker Cornelius Bennett had five.
This year the Bills are rushing Smith and Bennett from different spots to complicate blocking schemes. The result? Buffalo got three sacks in a season-opening win over Indianapolis, but was sackless against Miami last week in a 30-7 blowout loss.
Still, the Bills are up to snuff in at least one category. It took two weeks for Team Grouch to start quarreling again. In the loss to Miami, coach Marv Levy pulled some starters, including quarterback Jim Kelly, with just under eight minutes to go.
Smith was seen yelling at Levy along the sidelines. Later in the locker room, he said, "We just gave up." Levy fined Smith $500 for the comment, and fined three other defensive starters -- Leonard Smith, Nate Odomes and Kirby Jackson -- $100 each for coming off the field too slowly after being pulled.
Levy also released fullback Larry Kinnebrew, the team's second-leading rusher a year ago, to sign a punter. Kinnebrew started in the season opener, scored the only touchdown against Miami, but also failed to convert a fourth-and-one run on the team's opening drive.
Woodlawn High product Carlton Bailey has broken into the starting lineup for Buffalo at right inside linebacker. He has eight tackles in two games.
The Jets, also 1-1, showed signs of progress by beating Cleveland 24-21 last week. Running back Freeman McNeil, who was cut and then re-signed, totaled 142 yards in that game.