When the Bills met the New York Jets in Week 9 and came out a 26-17 loser, Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins had a lot to do with it.
The eighth-year vet served as the immovable object in New York's 3-4 defense, racking up five tackles, a sack for a loss of nine yards and three quarterback hurries on Bills quarterback Trent Edwards. More importantly, his presence helped the Jets hold the Bills to just 30 yards on 17 carries.
Bills guard Duke Preston, who lines up opposite Jenkins in the 3-4 scheme, said the focus this time around has more to do with containing the two-time Pro Bowl lineman.
"We've just got to make sure we do a good job of locking him down and try to neutralize him," Preston said. "He's a great player, he's going to make plays and they're saying he's going be the defensive MVP of the league and we've just got to neutralize him and not allow him to really cause trouble."
He said the hardest part of Preston's game to defend isn't just his 6-foot-4-inch, 349 pound body. It's his ceaseless work ethic.
"More than anything he's a challenge because he doesn't take plays off," Preston said. "When he's on the field, he's going 100 percent. There's some guys that they're so big and they move so well that a couple times they can coast a little bit if they're getting doubled, but he's bringing it, so we know that we have to bring our 'A' game and really come with it."
Jenkins was a focus of the Bills in the first matchup with the Jets, but he dominated with five tackles, two sacks, three quarterback hits and two tackles for loss. It's been a banner season for Jenkins made all the more impressive by having never played in a 3-4 system prior to coming to the Jets.
"It's hard to do making the position change that he did, never being in a 3-4 system, whether it was college or pro football," said Jets head coach Eric Mangini. "Kris has done a really sound job of understanding the technique, understanding the blocking schemes, but not losing his ability to make plays that he made in the other system."
Saying he didn't know if he considered this season his best, Jenkins said he has adopted a simpler approach to the game. He called the move to New York from Carolina positive both on and off the field. He said the change of scenery may have even played a part in leaving his injury troubles in the past.
"It has been monumental in me getting my life into perspective," Jenkins said. "Finding the love for the game again. Starting to realize what I want to do after football. Family life together, my kids, everything. Sometimes people don't understand stress causes as much injury as anything else."
One thing giving Buffalo's linemen confidence is knowing against a two-gap scheme like the 3-4, their guards will be largely uncovered allowing them to assist Preston in the pivot.
Right guard Brad Butler said that while the Jets are among the best in the league at playing the 3-4, the Bills will try to displace Jenkins from the middle of the running lanes with guard-tackle double coverage.
"Their main goal is to get those big defensive ends and nose tackles in there and push you back and read off of that and make plays," he said. "It's a little bit of a different defense and it's something that everybody runs in the AFC East and the Jets and the Patriots are the best at the running aspect of the 3-4. It's something we're going to have to work on, getting our double teams, trying to move (Jenkins) out of there."
Preston said with the double coverage that will be used and with his experience against Jenkins earlier this season, he thinks he is ready for another shot at the Jets' big man.
"A couple little things that he likes to do, seeing him in person and having played him already, I think I'll be a little bit better prepared for some of his moves, some of his adjustments and the channels that he likes to use," Preston said. "It's kind of a group effort inside but we've got to do our best."