Jets RB Thomas Jones runs for one of three touchdowns in the second quarter during the Jets 26-14 win over Cincinnati. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
It could have happened earlier. It was supposed to happen earlier.
Early in the fourth quarter the Jets were working on a drive that would have gone a long way to putting the game out of reach for the Bengals, but Brett Favre botched it up.
Faced with 3rd-and-12 from the Cincinnati 31-yard line, Favre threw from the shotgun for Jerricho Cotchery but Bengals CB Johnathan Joseph deflected the pass and S Corey Lynch grabbed it for a pick, Favre’s second of the game and third turnover.
It gave Cincinnati the ball deep in their own territory, down only six. It could have put the Jets up by two scores, something that had to wait almost 10 minutes when Thomas Jones burst into the end zone for his third touchdown (two running, one receiving) of the game, a career first.
“With Thomas, with Leon [Washington], and now with Jesse [Chatman], I feel confident with all three of those guys running the ball,” head coach Eric Mangini said. “Thomas helped us obviously with carrying the ball, but also his ability to get in around the pass and give the illusion that it may be a more run-oriented set.”
While it was the passing game against Arizona, running got it done against Cincinnati. Jones was happy with the win and seemed confident about his and the Jets’ ability to grind it out.
“You never know how the game is going to come out,” Jones said. “[Two weeks ago] we threw the ball really well and scored a lot of points. Today it wasn’t the exact same situation. We had to grind it out a little bit more. The good thing is we’re able to do both.
“I consider myself the type of back that can wear a defense down. Every play, I try to run as hard as I can whether I am running into a guy or blocking a guy. I try my best make him feel it, so in the third and fourth quarter of the game he’s tired.
“As far as grinding it out in though situations, the 3rd-and-1, 4th-and-1, I take pride in those types of situations when I’m out there.”
For Gang Green, who overcame a 3-1 turnover margin, it was about playing well enough.
“Obviously we need to do a much better job protecting the ball, especially against a team like this,” Mangini said. “Marvin’s record is very good historically when he wins the turnover margin.”
Favre, who was 25-for-33 with 189 yards, started sloppy on the game’s opening drive when he fumbled the ball on third down. He was sacked by Cincinnati DE Antwan Odom and S Chinedum Ndukwe picked up the lose ball to take it to the house, putting the visitors up 7-0 and momentarily sucking the life out of the Giants Stadium crowd.
“That could have been a turning point for them and that’s never good,” Favre said. “What I think is more important, is the fact that it happened and the fact that we overcame it.
“We came back. We didn’t miss a beat.”
That was the only time the Bengals would lead as the Jets marched down the field on the ensuing possession to score despite some missed opportunities.
It started with an ineligible receiver downfield—OL Brandon Moore—that negated Dustin Keller’s would-be 4-yard touchdown catch. Then from nine yards out, WR Chansi Stuckey was flagged for interference, bringing back a Cotchery touchdown. From the 19-yard line, the Jets finally caught a break on an illegal contact penalty by Cincinnati that moved them five yards closer. Three plays later Jones caught a two-yard pass from Favre to tie the game 7-7.
“We just stuck with it,” Jones said. “Our offensive coach (Brian Schottenheimer) did a great job calling plays that series and putting us in a good position.”
Defensively, Gang Green played well led by LB Calvin Pace, who had 4 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. The Jets defense sacked Bengals QB Ryan Fitzpatrick five times for a total loss of 24 yards. The former Harvard QB was Cincinnati’s leading rusher with 23 yards and a touchdown.
“We tried to come out and affect their running game,” Pace said. “We saw on film that they were going to try and run the ball, so we wanted to get into the quarterback’s face a little bit.”
While Cincinnati reverted to the ground, it proved to be useless. Bengals RBs Chris Perry and Cedric Benson were helpless as they combined for 20 yards on 15 carries.
“Since Carson Palmer wasn’t going to play, we figured that they may go more with the running game today,” Pace said. “Eric [Mangini] told us that he [Fitzpatrick] was one of the first players to throw for over 300 yards in his first game, so we knew he had the talent to go out and put up some yards.
“We just wanted to go out and put some hits on him. We just wanted to make his day uncomfortable.”
Ranked 31st in the NFL coming into Sunday’s matchup with Cincinnati, the Jets pass defense had a lot to prove.
Fitzpatrick threw for 152 yards, completing 20 of his 33 passes, but failed to reach the end zone with any of his receivers. Chad Ocho Cinco had 57 yards, and TJ Houshmandzadeh had 49 yards, but the Bengals failed to come up with much of anything offensively.
“The disappointment of the loss starts with us not getting anything going offensively,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. “We’re not moving the ball effectively enough.
“It’s a combination of things. We’ve got to do better. It’s not good enough.”
It was noticeable frustration coming from a coach that is now 0-6. Ocho Cinco talked earlier this week about needing explosive plays, and they continue to lack from the Bengals.
The Jets improve to 3-2, and next head to Oakland, another hapless team that the Jets should be licking their chops to play.
A Tearful Jenkins
When asked why he left the game at one point, NT Kris Jenkins told reporters that his eyes were watering.
“I could have lined back up, but I wouldn’t have been at my best,” Jenkins said. “If I am not going to be at my best to help my team win then I need to take a play off. I took a moment off and I was fine.”
Tight Ends Still Out of the Mix
Against the Cardinals it was Laveranues Coles who had the big day, catching three touchdown passes from Brett Favre, who threw for a career-high six. Sunday against Cincinnati it was RB Thomas Jones who carried the offense.
It made Coles mention that all the offense needs is a tight end.
Chris Baker had a catch for six yards Sunday, while Bubba Franks was the intended receiver on one of Favre’s interceptions. Dustin Keller would have had a touchdown if not for a penalty. Given the rate this offense is going, it shouldn’t be long before Baker and Franks get in on the action.
Eric Mangini mentioned in his opening statements of his press conference that for the first time in “I don’t know how many years,” his wife missed a game.
“She’s watching on TV,” Mangini said. “I’d just like to say hello to Julie and Zack. It’s the first game and I know she feels badly about not being here. I miss you.”
Eric Mangini’s teams are undefeated (3-0) in the game following the bye week. The Jets defeated New England 17-14 on November 12, 2006 and Pittsburgh 19-16 in overtime on November 17, 2007.
The Jets are 3-1 in the New York Titans throwback uniforms since introducing them during the 2007 season.
The Jets lead the regular season series with the Bengals, 13-7. In this series, the Jets have won six of the last seven games between the two teams and all seven meetings with the Bengals in the Meadowlands.
The Bengals are now 0-2 at the Meadowlands this season. The Giants beat Cincinnati in overtime 26-23 during Week 3.
GRADING THE JETS
Brett Favre threw two interceptions and fumbled, but Thomas Jones more than made up for it. He scored three touchdowns, a career high, and totaled 65 yards. Cotchery had 85 yards receiving, and Coles had 61—both receivers caught eight balls apiece. While it wasn’t an explosive game, Gang Green definitely took care of business.
The Jets rendered Cincinnati’s offense helpless for most of the game, making QB Ryan Fitzpatrick the Bengals leading rusher, a laughable statistic being that he ran for more yards than RBs Chris Perry and Cedric Benson combined. The Bengals had to punt seven times, and failed to do much of anything offensively.
Special Teams: A
Jay Feely was a perfect 2-for-2 on his field goal attempts, and Leon Washington averaged 15.4 yards on punt returns and 32.5 yards on kickoff returns. The Jets’ average drive start was their own 46-yard line while the average drive start for Cincinnati was their own 20-yard line.
Nothing too drastic from Mangini, but what sticks out is early in the first quarter when New York went for it on 4th-and-1, converting and leading to an eventual Jets touchdown.
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