Safety Antonio Allen and cornerback Antonio Cromartie were picked on during the Bengals' first drive, which ended with Andy Dalton’s nine-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones. But Milliner played so poorly in the first half that coach Rex Ryan sat him down before halftime.
“I benched him because, physically, he wasn’t getting it done,” Ryan said.
Milliner, benched for the second time this season, couldn’t argue.
“I just wasn’t making physical plays,” the first-round draft pick said. “The last time, it was mental plays. [Sunday] I was in position to make the plays. I just didn’t make them.”
Unofficially, Milliner yielded four catches for 108 yards and one touchdown while the Bengals were racing to a 28-6 lead at halftime. Among the big plays he allowed were a 30-yard catch by Jones on Cincinnati’s second possession, which left the Bengals with first-and-goal at the Jets' 4-yard line, and a 24-yard catch by Mohamed Sanu that got the Bengals from their own 25-yard line out to the 49. That drive also ended in a touchdown.
“Most of the big plays in the game happened on me,” said Milliner, who also was benched before halftime of the Jets’ 13-10 loss at New England in Week 2. “It was very frustrating. I feel that, as a person and a player, I let my teammates down. I played a terrible game.”
Ryan was convinced during the week that Milliner was ready to play.
“I’ve seen it on the practice field and everything else,” Ryan said. “This isn’t the first game he’s started. He’s started for a while now. That’s why.”
What Ryan couldn’t explain is why Milliner’s practice performance isn’t translating to games.
“That’s a good question, but it wasn’t just him,” Ryan said. “We have a Pro Bowl corner [Cromartie] that didn’t have a good day either, so it’s all of us."
Milliner really didn’t know what to think when Ryan told him his day was done.
“As a coach, he’s got to do what he did,” the Alabama product said. “I’ve got to make the plays. He put [Darrin] Walls in, and he did a great job. I respect [Ryan] and have to trust him on every decision he makes.”