What it means: The Jets (4-4) fell two games behind the first-place New England Patriots with a continuation of their maddening inconsistency. They haven't won two in a row since Weeks 13 and 14 last season. You expect a team with modest talent to experience its share of ups and downs, but this was ridiculous. This was an absolute no-show, confirming this team can't handle prosperity. That's a significant flaw, and it goes on coach Rex Ryan. In their past three defeats, each following a victory, the Jets have lost by 15, 13 and 40 points. It was the second-most lopsided loss of the Ryan era. And they can't blame this one on Geno Smith's growing pains. The rookie quarterback threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns, but it already was a 28-3 blowout by the time he served up the first pick-six.
Stock watch: Quite simply, this was one of the worst defensive performances in the Ryan era. Fourth-ranked defense in the NFL? Gimme a break. The Jets were an embarrassment, surrendering four touchdowns in the first six possessions. Andy Dalton threw a career-high five touchdowns and passed for 325 yards -- and it could've been a lot worse, as the Bengals dropped three long passes. The Jets had no answer for receiver Marvin Jones, who set a franchise record with four touchdown catches. The Bengals outsmarted the Jets, using clever formations to create mismatches. Ryan never adjusted.
There was no pass rush, and the secondary was brutal. The worst offender was rookie cornerback Dee Milliner, who was benched in the second quarter after allowing four receptions for 108 yards, including a touchdown. Milliner, the No. 9 overall pick, has played far below expectations, and that has to be troubling. This marked the second time he was benched in a game. Antonio Cromartie got beat deep twice by A.J. Green, but Dalton stayed away from Cromartie for the most part. Darrin Walls, Dawan Landry and Jaiquawn Jarrett each allowed a touchdown pass.
Woe is Geno: Smith (20-for-30, 159 yards) was replaced early in the fourth quarter by Matt Simms. Don't read too much into the change; it probably was Ryan trying to save Smith from injury. He was under pressure from the outset, as the offensive line (especially left guard Brian Winters) struggled against the Bengals' front four. Smith did a poor job with blitz recognition, resulting in two early sacks. Smith continues to be an enigma. His record after victories is 0-4, with one touchdown and nine interceptions.
What's next: The Jets return home to face the New Orleans Saints (6-1) in the Ryan Bowl -- Rex vs. Rob, the Saints' defensive coordinator.