EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Mark Sanchez jogged onto the field for the first play of the game and immediately had to call an embarrassing timeout.
It was just about the only thing that stopped the New York Jets all afternoon.
Sanchez became the first Jets quarterback to throw two touchdown passes and run for two scores as New York got off to a fast start and improved its positioning in the AFC playoff race by cruising to a 37-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday.
"I was happy we had another opening-drive touchdown," Sanchez said. "It set the tone early, and we converted on some big third downs and didn't get too many third downs, which was good. We had some explosive plays and the run game really took off."
The Jets, plagued by slow starts all season, opened with a timeout - and boos from the MetLife Stadium crowd - because they had the wrong personnel on the field, but rebounded to score 28 points in the first half and were helped by an inept Chiefs offense that managed just 4 total yards in the first two quarters.
It marked the first time the Jets scored 28 points in an opening half since scoring 40 against St. Louis in 2008.
"I love the way we started the game," Jets coach Rex Ryan said.
New York (8-5), who will play the Eagles on Sunday (4:15 p.m., CBS) at the Linc, also leapfrogged Cincinnati and Tennessee, both 7-6 after losses yesterday. And they moved into the lead for the last wild-card spot after Oakland was pummeled by Green Bay.
"It's just what we've been talking about for the last 12, 13 weeks," linebacker Calvin Pace said. "It all came to form today, which is what we needed. We kind of hold our own destiny in our hands and it was about getting a good win."
Sanchez was 13-for-21 for 181 yards before being pulled for Mark Brunell with the game in hand, and was cheered warmly in pregame introductions after being booed in the team's last home game 2 weeks ago.
Shonn Greene had a season-high 129 yards rushing and a score along with three catches for 58 yards, and Santonio Holmes and LaDainian Tomlinson each caught touchdown passes for the Jets, who have won three straight and improved to 6-1 at home.
"I guess it would be our best game so far this year," coach Rex Ryan said.
It might have been a costly win, though, as starting safety Jim Leonhard was lost early with an injured right knee after an interception. There was no immediate word on the severity, but many players seemed to think it was serious.
"I'm hopeful it's not that bad," Ryan said, "but it's never good when you're carted off."
Tyler Palko was sacked five times by the Jets in a miserable outing by the penalty-plagued Chiefs (5-8) a week after the quarterback earned his first victory as a starter at Chicago. He was 3-for-8 for 11 yards in the half, sacked three times, and the Chiefs had 4 total yards and one first down, compared to the Jets' 16. Palko had a much better second half, finishing 16-for-32 for 195 yards and a TD and an interception.
"The Jets put a lot of pressure [on you]," Palko said. "That's just what they do. They're a lot like the Steelers. They have guys all over the place."
Dwayne Bowe dropped a would-be TD pass midway through the fourth quarter, but things got ugly for the Chiefs way before that.