Jets Playoff Bound After 37-0 Win Over Bengals
The New York Jets entered the January 3 game against the AFC North Division champions Cincinnati Bengals with a chance to make the playoffs with a victory. A loss would send the Jets players home. The game was also the Jets’ last at Giants Stadium, where they have played their home games since 1984. Their new home field, the New Meadowlands Stadium, will open for the 2010 season.
The Bengals won the toss and deferred, choosing to receive the ball in the second half. The Jets opened their first series on the game with a running play to Jones up the middle for two yards. A pass to Braylon Edwards for six set up a third down and three. Mark Sanchez hit Jerricho Cotchery for a first down. This first Jets series was a sign of things to come.
The Jets scored when they caught the Bengals off guard with a direct snap back to Brad Smith, a quarterback in college, who ran right through the Bengals defensive line and did not stop until he was tackled 57 yards later, setting up a one-yard line early in the must-win game for the Jets.
Sanchez wasted no time handing off to Jones, the Jets’ leading rusher, who ran it in from the one for the first score of the game, giving the Jets a 7-0 lead.
With time running down in the first quarter the Jets struck again on a 20-yard Jay Feeley field goal, boosting the Jets’ lead to 10-0 with 14:04 to go in the first half.
The Bengals received their first first down of the game on an illegal contact penalty against Darrelle Revis at 1:11 of the second quarter but failed to capitalize when three penalties against the Bengals forced a punt, giving the Jets the ball near midfield.
On the very next play Smith took the direct snap and ran for a 32-yard TD to push the Jets’ lead to 17-0 with time running out in the first half.
The Jets defense came to play with their A-game and did not budge, forcing Cincinnati to punt again before the half. The Jets scored quickly on a on a Sanchez-to-Cotchery 12-yard TD reception, putting the Jets up 24-0.
The Jets showed why they top the NFL in defense as they forced Carlson Palmer into a turnover on an interception that put their offense back in business inside the Bengals’ 30-yard line, putting their offense back on the field yet again. Jets coach Rex Ryan called time out with two seconds on the clock and sent in Feeley to attempt a 38-yard field goal. Feeley’s kick was good as time ran out in the fist half with the Jets leading 27-0.
The Jets left the field at the half after manhandling the Bengals in every category. They led in first downs 16-1, total yards 250-7, including passing yards 60-0 and rushing yards 190-7. The Jets had the ball for 24:50 with the Bengals offense on the field for 5:10. The first half was definitely the Jets’ best first half of the season in a game they needed to win to earn the right to play the Bengals again next week in Cincinnati in the first round of the playoffs.
The Bengals took the second half kickoff but failed to go anywhere, giving the ball back to the Jets explosive offensive. When their drive stalled, Coach Ryan called on dependable Feeley to put up three more points on the scoreboard on a 40-yard field goal, giving the Jets a commanding 30-0 lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Jets’ defense showed why they are unquestionably rated number one in the NFL. Defensive End Kerry Rhodes picked up a J.T. Sullivan fumble at the Jets 30-yard line and ran it back 44-yards to the Bengals’ 26.
The Jets went on to score again on a two- yard Jones run, putting the Jets up 37-0 in a game they had to win and they did. With less than two minutes in the game James Ihedigbo sacked Bengals backup quarterback J. O’Sullivan who fumbled the ball. Jets defender Jamaal Westerman picked up the loose ball, cinching a Jets’ 37-0 shutout against the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals.
“We believed in ourselves. We played great defense and won the game. I feel good about our team. They are right there,” Jets Coach Ryan said.
Sanchez said, “It is huge for us to start off strong. We will need something like that next week.”
The 37-0 shutout victory propelled the Jets into the playoffs. The Jets were effective in all three phases of their game, offense, defense and special teams. The Jets will travel to Cincinnati to play the Bengals again on Saturday, January 9 at 4 p.m. for a chance to move on in post-season play.