AFC East: 2011 NFL preseason Week 2

Rapid Reaction: Jets 27, Bengals 7

August, 21, 2011
Thoughts from the Jets 27-7 preseason win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

WHAT IT MEANS: Rebounding from a so-so performance last week, the New York Jets improved in all phases and defeated the helpless Cincinnati Bengals on a rainy Sunday night at New Meadowlands Stadium. Plaxico Burress was the star, but this was more than a one-man show. Midway through the preseason, the Jets (1-1) have to feel good about themselves. And there appeared to be no major injuries.

LIKE OLD TIMES: Burress made his Jets debut and gave the rain-soaked fans what they wanted -- a moment to talk about. The moment came with 51 seconds left in the second quarter, when he made an over-the-shoulder, 26-yard touchdown catch. With his back to Mark Sanchez, Burress threw his 6-foot-5 body into a dive, securing the high, arching pass as he skidded across the wet turf.

With that one play, Burress announced his return to football. After nearly two years in prison, he was back, demonstrating the kind of athleticism you wouldn’t expect from a 34-year-old receiver that spent that much time in the big house. It came against a backup cornerback named Fred Bennett, but that didn’t matter. It was all about body control, hand-eye coordination and sticky hands.

Burress played 30 of 32 plays in the first half, finishing with three catches for 66 yards. Translation: A smashing debut.

SANCHEZ ROCKS: After an efficient but largely non-descript performance last week, Sanchez (12-for-20, 173 yards, two TDs) delivered some big plays in the passing game. The protection was better this week, thanks to the return of All-Pro center Nick Mangold. He led the offense to two touchdowns (drives of 16 and 99 yards) and a field goal in seven possessions, wrapping up the night with a 10-play, 99-yard touchdown drive.

Until then, the Sanchez-led offense was like the weather -- blah. In fact, the Jets started 0-for-6 on third down. The turning point was a 43-yard pass to a wide-open Dustin Keller, providing good field position after being backed up at their 1. From there, Sanchez hit Keller on a third-down catch, setting up the Burress highlight-film catch.

WIDE-OPEN OFFENSE: For the second straight week, the Jets relied heavily on a three-receiver attack. In fact, they used their “11” personnel package (3 WRs, 1 TE, 1RB) on 19 of 32 plays in the first half. With Derrick Mason (knee) sitting out, they used Burress, Santonio Holmes (16-yard TD) and rookie Jeremy Kerley in three-wide packages.

NO GROUND AND POUND: By placing an emphasis on the passing attack -- a necessity, given the new parts -- the running game was out of sync. LaDainian Tomlinson got the start with Shonn Greene (foot) out of the lineup, and the 32-year-old looked a bit sluggish. He rushed for 16 yards on nine carries. Tomlinson got a lot of work, appearing in 31 of 32 plays in the first half. Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell didn’t see significant time until the second half.

OPPORTUNISTIC D: The Jets roughed up the offensively challenged Bengals, intercepting three passes -- Eric Smith, Jim Leonhard and Brashton Satele. The three turnovers set up 17 points for the Jets, and that was pretty much the story of the game. Keep in mind, the Bengals no longer have Carson (I Wanna Retire) Palmer at quarterback. They started rookie Andy Dalton and replaced him with journeyman Bruce Gradkowski.

WELCOME MAYBIN: Bills castoff Aaron Maybin, the 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft, made his presence felt in his Jets debut. After only three days of practice with the team, Maybin recorded a strip sack on Bengals third-string QB Jordan Palmer. Hey, that might have been enough to grab a spot on the 53-man roster.

TAMPA -- Rapid reaction after the Patriots throttled the Buccaneers, 31-14, in both teams' second preseason game:

Domination from top units. The Patriots looked sharp on both sides of the ball, opening a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. It was 28-0 at the half. Quarterback Tom Brady was on his game; outside of failing to execute in a two-minute situation at the end of the first half, he directed an offense that played at a regular-season type pace. Meanwhile, the defense had a nice mix of tight coverage and pressure, forcing two three-and-outs to open the game. It was 14-0 by that point as the Patriots' first-stringers smoked the Buccaneers' top players. The Patriots' top units look loaded.

Ochocinco takes big hit, responds. The first Tom Brady-to-Chad Ochocinco connection got off to a tough start, with Brady's first pass to No. 85 over the middle resulting in Ochocinco taking a big hit from linebacker Mason Foster that drew a personal-foul penalty. After another incompletion along the sideline, Ochocinco gathered in an 8-yard touchdown from Brady on a play-action fake out of a three-tight end set. Ochocinco left the football in the end zone, hardly celebrating. In all, Ochocinco was charted on the field for 24 snaps (including penalties). His stat line: 2 catches, 14 yards, 1 TD.

Starters play throughout first half. Playing time is often a big question in preseason games and Bill Belichick kept his top players in the game throughout the first half. Rookie left tackle Nate Solder, who started, played two series into the second half. The Patriots were short-handed in the secondary, so they had some top players still on the field in the second half.

Attacking defense, led by Carter and Mayo, shines. After a 2010 season in which the Patriots struggled to generate pressure on a consistent basis out of their base alignment, tonight they looked like a different unit. They were swarming, led by linebacker Jerod Mayo (two sacks) and defensive end Andre Carter, who was bringing it off the right edge. Impressive.

Running game gets it going. The offensive line/tight ends and running backs Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis get deserved praise, as the Patriots steamrolled the Buccaneers. First-half totals on the ground: 117 yards on 17 carries (6.9 avg.) and two touchdowns.

Health questions with Fletcher, Lockett and Woodhead. Areas to monitor on the health front in the days to come are with linebacker Dane Fletcher (thumb), safety Bret Lockett (thigh/groin) and Woodhead (shaken up on fourth-quarter punt coverage). Woodhead was smiling on the bench at the end of the game.

Mallett throws a pick-six. After an impressive performance in the preseason opener, rookie quarterback Ryan Mallett struggled, throwing a pick-six on his first drive which opened the second half. It was returned 69 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Elbert Mack, with Mallett getting crunched on the return. No. 2 quarterback Brian Hoyer, who played sparingly as he was inserted into the game mid-drive twice as a way to keep him sharp, also almost threw a pick-six. Not a great night for the backups after a strong showing in the preseason opener. Overall, the second half was sloppy for the Patriots' reserves.