NFL Nation: Bengals-Jets 010310

Bengals-Jets inactives

January, 9, 2010
Here are the players you won’t see in Saturday’s playoff game between the New York Jets (9-7) and Cincinnati Bengals (10-6):


QB Jordan Palmer
RB Larry Johnson
FB Fui Vakapuna
TE Darius Hill
S Tom Nelson
C Jonathan Luigs
WR Jerome Simpson
DT Orien Harris


QB Kevin O’Connell
QB Erik Ainge
CB Donald Strickland
RB Chauncey Washington
LB Ryan Fowler
OG Matt Slauson
DE Ropati Pitoitua
LB Marques Douglas

AFC East Final Word: Jets-Bengals

January, 8, 2010
AFC: Ravens-Patriots: Graham | Walker Jets-Bengals: Graham | Walker
NFC: Cowboys-Eagles: Mosley Packers-Cardinals: Sando | Seifert

Three nuggets of knowledge about Saturday's Jets-Bengals wild-card playoff game:

[+] EnlargeDarrelle Revis and Chad Ochocinco
Rich Kane/Icon SMIDarrelle Revis shut down Chad Ochocinco in their last meeting and made it look easy.
Darrelle Revis will eliminate Chad Ochocinco again. When the Bengals have the ball, the game will be 10 on 10. Revis, the lockdown cornerback and defensive player of the year candidate, was on Ochozilcho like static cling Sunday night. When the Bengals were trying to win in the first half, quarterback Carson Palmer threw to his top receiver four times without success. Ochocinco finished the game without a reception for the first time since opening day 2002. Revis made it look effortless.

Mark Sanchez or Brad Smith needs to loosen up Cincinnati's defense early. Readers of this blog know my stance on what happens to the Jets' chances to win once Sanchez starts throwing downfield. But the Jets still need to give the Bengals something to fear other than the run. The best ways to do that will be to venture a couple deep shots while the game still is scoreless or to hit a big play with receiver Brad Smith taking the snaps out of the pistol formation.

The Jets aren't Super Bowl favorites, but they're not first on anybody's playoff opponent wish list. Las Vegas installed the Jets as 50-to-1 long shots. Jets coach Rex Ryan responded by declaring his team not only should be held in higher regard, but also should be the favorites because of their No. 1 rushing attack and No. 1 defense. While I don't agree with Ryan, I'm closer to taking his side than I am the oddsmakers in my former hometown. The Jets have a scary ability to neutralize, especially if the game is being played outdoors.

Smith gives Jets added dimensions

January, 7, 2010
Brad SmithAP Photo/Darron CummingsWide receiver Brad Smith brings added versatility to the New York Jets' offense.
Scour the New York Jets' depth chart and you'll find Brad Smith tucked away as a backup receiver.

He's not easy to spot there. On the field, however, he could be anywhere.

As if the Cincinnati Bengals didn't have enough of a migraine, trying to pull off a 38-point swing in the six days between getting slobberknocked at the Meadowlands and Saturday's rematch with the Jets in the first round of the playoffs, they'll have to dedicate a nice chunk of their short week to solving a new problem.

Where will Smith be, and what will he do when we spot him?

In a must-win game for the Jets on Sunday night, Smith shocked the Bengals. He lined up at quarterback, his position at the University of Missouri, and took off like a whippet -- four times for a career-high 92 yards and a touchdown.

Smith darted 57 yards out of the shotgun to set up a 1-yard Thomas Jones touchdown run on the opening drive and kept an option around the right end for a 32-yard touchdown in the second quarter. A week earlier, he returned a kickoff 106 yards to help the Jets beat the Indianapolis Colts and remain alive for the postseason.

When the Jets couldn't have been more desperate for victories, Smith might have been the MVP each game.

"He can run. He can throw. He can catch. He plays special teams. He can tackle," Jones said. "He is, to me, one of the best all-purpose guys in the league. I think he's very underrated.

"With a guy like Brad Smith in the game, it keeps the defense off balance. They're not sure of what he is going to do."

(Read full post)

Quick Take: Jets at Bengals

January, 4, 2010
Three things to know about Saturday's Jets at Bengals wild-card playoff game:

1. The Jets can't afford to feel like they've arrived. Now that the Jets have qualified for the playoffs, they need to understand their season hasn't been made. I recall the scene in the visiting locker room at the Meadowlands a year ago, when the Dolphins won the AFC East title on the final day. The Dolphins carried on as though the mission had been accomplished and glowed with those championship ball caps atop their heads. Then they got destroyed a week later by the wild-card Ravens. The Jets need to remember that making the playoffs doesn't prove much. They must maintain their edge if they want to reach the second round.

2. The Jets must keep Mark Sanchez on the periphery. Head coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer have regulated their rookie quarterback by limiting his number and types of his throws (i.e. the chance for giveaways). In each of Sanchez's past five victories, his number of attempts has been in the teens and his yardage never topped 153. On Sunday night, he completed 8 of 16 attempts for 63 yards. If the Jets' dominant run game can boost the offense to the point Sanchez doesn't have to throw downfield, then they'll have a great chance.

3. What transpired Sunday night should resonate in Cincy. The Jets shouldn't assume the Bengals will be apprehensive about the rematch, but over the next six days the AFC North champs are going to have to come up with ways to pull off a 38-point swing. Even if we consider only the time Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer was in the game and throwing to Chad Ochocinco and apparently trying to win the game before halftime, the Bengals will need to get 27 points better. That sounds like an awful lot.

Jets got lucky, but they belong in playoffs

January, 4, 2010
Chad Ochocinco, Darrelle RevisEd Mulholland/US PresswireDarrelle Revis and the Jets held Chad Ochocinco without a catch for the first time this season.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The hecklers already can be heard openly mocking the absurdity of it all.

The New York Jets are in the playoffs?

That's right. They backed in.

But had the Jets not qualified for the postseason, ridicule would've been louder. The team with the NFL's best defense and top rushing offense should be a lock for the playoffs, and anything less would warrant gobs of negative criticism.

So it can't be both.

Either the Jets deserved to get into the playoffs, or they didn't.

The Jets need to make no apologies for what they've accomplished.

Happenstance, destiny, whatever you want to label it, they pulled it off Sunday night with a resounding 37-0 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at the Meadowlands.

The Jets (9-7), with a bombastic rookie head coach and a capricious rookie quarterback, made the bracket. They'll face the host Bengals again, this time at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Paul Brown Stadium.

"When you look at the body of work, you see that we can do some special things," Jets fullback Tony Richardson said. "Most teams that do have the No. 1 defense and the No. 1 rushing attack and play great on special teams generally do make the playoffs.

"No matter how we got in, and people might always want to put an asterisk by it, we just have to get ready to work next week."

And that's the real punch line. The Jets will convene this week not to clean out their lockers like 20 other NFL teams will, but to get ready for another game.

It took an outrageous sequence of fortuitous events for the Jets to get in. AccuScore pegged the Jets' chances of breaking into the playoffs at 11.6 percent entering their Week 16 game against the undefeated Indianapolis Colts. But the Jets took a third-quarter lead in Lucas Oil Stadium, and the Colts pulled Peyton Manning.

Voila, a Jets victory.

But that wasn't nearly enough to swing the door so wide open that all the Jets needed to do in their regular-season finale was beat an opponent that already had clinched the AFC North and could rest its players.

Also in Week 16, the Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars all lost. Everything that could have gone right for the Jets most improbably did.

"We definitely got some good breaks," Jets kicker Jay Feely said. "Unfortunately, we had some breaks go against us earlier in the season, or else we could've been in a much better situation.

"But this is a team that has a lot of character. We never lost faith in ourselves. This locker room was never -- in any way -- fractured at all. That's one of the reasons we were able to stay together when we lost critical games."

Feely would know. The Jets seemed to have bottomed out with a heartbreaking Week 15 home defeat to the Atlanta Falcons. The field-goal unit butchered three field goal attempts and the defense gave up a last-second fourth-and-goal touchdown to lose 10-7.

After the game, Jets coach Rex Ryan suffered a bout of premature elimination, declaring his team mathematically out from the playoff race.

"So when you get a couple breaks, you've got to be thankful for them," Feely said. "Now that we're in the playoffs, I think we’ve got as good of a chance as anybody to go all the way."

Teams don't have to be elite to get into the playoffs. The Arizona Cardinals were dismissed as undeserving a year ago, when they won the NFC West at 9-7. Then they went to the Super Bowl and came darn close to winning the whole thing.

"To get to the Super Bowl, it's all about hitting your stride at the right time," said outside linebacker Calvin Pace, who signed with the Jets last year after five seasons with the Cardinals. "Now, whether or not we're doing that, I don't know. We're playing well. But it's about finishing the season well in December.

"If you can get some momentum, man, anything can happen. ... If we can continue to stick to our formula, the sky's the limit."

Without star nose tackle Kris Jenkins, the Jets' defense finished atop the league in several categories. They allowed only 252.3 yards a game, 32.1 yards fewer than the next stingiest team. They gave up an average of 15.5 first downs a game and a league-low 163.9 passing yards a game. The Bengals had zero net passing yards Sunday night.

The Dallas Cowboys edged out the Jets in average scoring defense by one-tenth of a point.

The Jets' run game has been relentless behind Thomas Jones. The Jets amassed 257 rushing yards on the Bengals, giving them an average of 172.3 for the season.

The lone variable to the Jets' yo-yoing success has been greenhorn quarterback Mark Sanchez.

The Jets have figured out a way to marginalize him within their run-dominated offense. Sanchez completed 8 of 16 attempts for 63 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions Sunday night. In the second half, he had one pass for 9 yards.

Still, the Jets rolled up 37 points. The Bengals (10-6) scratched running back Cedric Benson and pulled several key players for the second half, but that final score will give the Bengals something to think about for the rematch.

"I think it's very tough to regroup after you got physically manhandled like that," Feely said. "When you have three plays in the first quarter and a half and we physically dominated them, it's very hard to regroup.

"They're a good team, and they've done a great job all year of overcoming adversity through all the tough times that they've had, so I'm sure they'll regroup and it'll be a great game. But we definitely sent a message."

The Jets validated themselves, not just Sunday night, but throughout the season.

They'll be the only team in the postseason with a rookie quarterback, but the fact they were able to overcome that liability shows they're an opponent to be reckoned with.

"All that matters is that we are in the postseason," right tackle Damien Woody said. "You earn everything you get in this league. Nothing is given to you."

Rapid Reaction: Jets 37, Bengals 0

January, 3, 2010
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Sure, the New York Jets got a few breaks along the way.

But when it mattered most, they showed up large.

The Jets, with the postseason on the line in the final game at Giants Stadium, dusted the Cincinnati Bengals 37-0 on Sunday night.

The clubs will meet again in Cincinnati in six days, and the Jets gave them plenty to think about -- even though the Bengals scratched running back Cedric Benson and benched many of their best players in the second half.

Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez was removed from the equation. He was limited to quick passes when necessary and finished 8-of-16 for 63 yards and zero touchdowns. But the most important stat for the rookie was zero turnovers.

Sanchez was credited with a touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery in the second quarter, but that was changed to a run instead.

The Jets had more than three times the rushing yards as the Bengals. Thomas Jones ran for 78 yards and two touchdowns, but receiver Brad Smith did the most damage on the ground. Smith ran four times for 92 yards and a touchdown on direct-snap plays.

Sunday night was the second shutout for the NFL's top-rated defense. The Jets held the Bengals to 72 rushing yards and zero passing yards. Not a typo there. Zero passing yards.

Revis zeroes out Chad Whatshisname

January, 3, 2010
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Chad Johnson is out of the game.

That's right. Chad Johnson. Not Chad Ochocinco. Not anymore.

Ochocinco declared before the game he would change his name back to Chad Johnson if New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis shut him out Sunday night.

In the press box at Giants Stadium, it was announced Ochocinco has been removed from the game with a left knee injury and will not return.

If that's a fact, then a get out the name-changing documents.

Carson Palmer targeted his top receiver four times, but they couldn't connect.

Johnson, it is.

Halftime hits from Bengals-Jets

January, 3, 2010
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Cincinnati Bengals are doing a wonderful job of resting their offensive starters.

The New York Jets have put together a domineering performance so far in Sunday night's must-win game. The Jets are well on their way to closing out Giants Stadium with a victory and clinching a wild-card berth, leading the Bengals 27-0 at halftime.

You'd barely be able to tell by looking at the box score, but Bengals coach Marvin Lewis supposedly did intend to win. The Bengals could have seized the AFC's No. 3 seed, but the stats of their offensive players are barely better than had they not put on a uniform.

But the Jets kept the ball for 24:50 in the first half, leaving the Bengals with 5:10. The Bengals managed one first down, and that was from a Jets penalty.

The Jets, meanwhile, were juggernauts. They've outgained the Bengals 250-7. Stop and stare at that number for a few seconds. That's just not right, people.

Jets receiver Brad Smith has rushed three times for 91 yards and a touchdown out of direct-snap formations.

What's been most impressive is that the Jets receivers are catching the ball. The same can't be said for Carson Palmer. He has a solitary completion on 11 tries, zero yards and one interception.

Bengals fans better hope it's not cold next week because Palmer's receivers haven't been able to hang onto it.

Chad Ochocino, who was talking big all week about his matchup with Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, has zero receptions even though Palmer has gone to him several times. Ochocinco said before the game he would revert to Chad Johnson if Revis shut him out.

"If Revis shuts me down, I will change my name back to Johnson," Ochocinco said. "That’s how confident I am. It’s not happening."

Oh, it's happening.

Jets take early lead sans Sanchez

January, 3, 2010
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- One of the New York Jets' keys to beating the Cincinnati Bengals is to keep the ball out of Mark Sanchez's hands as much as possible.

The more the rookie from Southern California has to throw in a single-digit wind chill, the more trouble the Jets will be in. And the safest way for the Jets to do steer clear of that situation is to play from ahead.

On Sunday night's opening drive, the Jets took a lead thanks to a play that not only kept Sanchez from throwing it, but also touching it.

Receiver and former college quarterback Brad Smith too a direct snap, made a couple cuts and dashed 57 yards to the Bengals' 1-yard line.

A play later, Thomas Jones plowed into the end zone to cap a seven-play, 72-yard possession.

Bengals-Jets inactives

January, 3, 2010
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Cincinnati Bengals are going to rest at least one key starter Sunday night against the New York Jets.

The Bengals have scratched running back Cedric Benson and named rookie Bernard Scott the starter. The Bengals also have Larry Johnson. Benson rushed for 1,251 yards and six touchdowns this year and is a candidate for NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

Cincinnati Bengals
New York Jets

G-g-g-greetings from the Meadowlands

January, 3, 2010
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A tad brisk here at the Meadowlands.

About 80 minutes before kickoff for the regular-season finale between the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets, and the temperature already is below 20 degrees, with a wind chill in the low single digits.

No snow in the forecast, but I imagine some nasal hairs will be frozen for the final game in Giants Stadium.

They don't get any bigger than this one in the regular season. If the Jets win, they make the playoffs. If they lose, they get to pack up their lockers Monday and take their family to the beach.

Still no sign as to what the Bengals will do in regard to resting their starters. The New England Patriots lost earlier, giving the game a little more meaning for the Bengals, who would become the No. 3 seed with a victory over the Jets.

What should the Bengals do?

January, 3, 2010
The No. 3 seed in the AFC is available for the Cincinnati Bengals (10-5).

But do they want it?

That is the question Cincinnati is pondering as it prepares for its Sunday night game against the New York Jets (8-7). The New England Patriots (10-6) lost to the Houston Texans earlier today, which opens up a chance for the Bengals to win and take the third playoff seed in the AFC.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said they would play to win this week. But that statement doesn't guarantee it will be the starters playing to win for the entire game against New York. Lewis has to determine whether the risk of injury is worth moving up one seed in the playoffs.

The Jets are hoping the Bengals rest their starters. New York needs to win Sunday to get into the postseason.

Pats scratch a few starters

January, 3, 2010
We still don't know how much the New England Patriots will rest their best players Sunday against the Houston Texans.

But they are going to sit a few of them. Among the players Bill Belichick has deactivated are running backs Kevin Faulk and Laurence Maroney and defensive linemen Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren.

I will be watching this game and the other two 1 p.m. AFC East kickoffs from my command central on the 10th floor of the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott before heading over the Meadowlands for the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets.'s Mike Reiss is on the scene in Houston to share his observations throughout the day.

Final Word: AFC East

January, 1, 2010
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 17:

[+] EnlargeMark Sanchez
Al Pereira/Getty Images)The Jets don't want to rely on Mark Sanchez's arm to win against Cincinnati.
The more invisible Mark Sanchez is, the better he will be Sunday night. With a victory over the Bengals, the Jets are in the playoffs. The more Jets head coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer can limit Sanchez's impact, the better. The Jets must run well because if Sanchez needs to throw to keep them in the game or come from behind, then they're going to be in trouble. The Sunday night forecast for East Rutherford, N.J., is for temperatures in the low 20s with 15 mph winds. Those are less-than-ideal conditions, especially for an erratic, interception-prone rookie from Southern California.

The Jets can send their fans home intoxicated with a victory. As wrong as it was for the NFL to schedule the Jets at home for the Giants Stadium finale, at least the game will be meaningful. Because of the do-or-die implications for the Jets, the game was flexed to 8:20 p.m. for NBC's "Sunday Night Football." The combination of a late start and the significance of the farewell event have led the Jets to turn off the taps. No alcohol will be served inside the stadium to prevent fans from tearing the place apart in hopes of walking out with a souvenir.

The Patriots can afford to hang loose Sunday. The Patriots won 11 games last year and couldn't qualify for the playoffs. This year, they can sit on 10 wins if they choose and not worry one bit about what else happens around the league. The Patriots clinched the AFC East last week and have very little to play for Sunday against the Texans. The Patriots cannot earn a first-round postseason bye and know they'll play host a wild-card team in Gillette Stadium next weekend. Tom Brady has declared he prefers to play the whole game, but there's a chance he and some others might not even make the trip to Houston. They might remain at the facility and get an early jump on preparations for a playoff game that could take place Jan. 9.

It would take a monster day, but Bills running back Fred Jackson could reach 1,000 yards. Jackson's journey from Division III afterthought to NFL feature back is a remarkable one regardless of his final stat line. But a milestone season would be a nice finishing touch for one of the game's most underrated players. Jackson needs to rush for 150 yards against the Colts to hit quadruple digits. That's doable. Jackson rushed for a career-high 163 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2, and the Colts, who likely will be resting some key players, rank 21st in rushing defense.

Dolphins fullback Lousaka Polite didn't get snubbed for the Pro Bowl. Maybe it's appropriate Jimmy Buffett is involved with the front office because Dolfans have turned into Parrotheads, involuntarily chirping Polite's name for the Pro Bowl. Polite had a fine season, but to say he got robbed is silly. Dolfans and some local media members are the only ones complaining. Polite has been waived or cut five times in six NFL seasons. He'll need to do more than have one good season for his peers to consider him. Meanwhile, Jets fullback Tony Richardson was part of the NFL's No. 1 rushing offense and blocked for his eighth 1,000-yard rusher since 2001. Richardson didn't make it either, and I don't hear anybody screeching over that.

Jets do swell in do-or-die games

January, 1, 2010
New York Jets FansAl Bello/Getty ImagesJets fans haven't had a Super Bowl win to celebrate in 40 years, but they can take some solace in knowing the Jets have performed well in do-or-die games to get into the playoffs.
New York Jets fans have disappointment in their DNA.

Perhaps it stands for Did Not Advance.

The Jets have maneuvered into the unlikely position of controlling their own destiny Sunday night against the Cincinnati Bengals at the Meadowlands.

It's essentially a postseason play-in game for the Jets. If they win, then they're in. If they don't, their season is over.

Jets fans are predisposed to heartbreak. The Jets have done little since Joe Namath wagged his index finger as he trotted off the Orange Bowl field after winning Super Bowl III.

In a feature story that ran this week, senior writer Greg Garber ventured to explain the miserable existence Jets fans have endured over the past four decades.

"Realistically, the glass is half full," legendary Jets defensive lineman Joe Klecko said of Sunday night's game. "But I can understand the [fans'] fatalism with all the bad cards they were dealt through this thing."

But I have some encouraging news for Jets fans.

When it comes to do-or-die games, they actually have won more than they've lost.

ESPN Stats & Information researchers Mark Simon and Mark Kelly compiled the list of finales the Jets had to win to get into the playoffs. The Jets have gone 5-3.

Dec. 20, 1981: Jets 28, Packers 3

Not only did the Jets put themselves into the playoffs by routing the Packers in the season's final game (the defense sacked Packers quarterback Lynn Dickey nine times), but they also helped the Giants clinch a playoff berth by eliminating the Packers.

[+] EnlargeChad Pennington
Al Bello/Getty ImagesChad Pennington celebrated winning the AFC East after tossing 4 TDs in a Dec. 2002 win over the Packers.
Dec. 22, 1991: Jets 23, Dolphins 20

The final game of the season was do or die for a wild-card spot. The Dolphins took the lead late in the fourth quarter on a fourth-down touchdown pass from Dan Marino to Ferrell Edmunds, but the Jets tied the game on a Raul Allegre 44-yard field goal as regulation time expired. The Jets won in sudden death. Allegre, in his first game with the Jets, made a 30-yard field goal.

Jan. 2, 1993: Oilers 24, Jets 0

The Jets were 8-5 but lost their last three games of the season, including an embarrassing defeat against the Oilers in the regular-season finale. A win in this Sunday night game (best known for Buddy Ryan punching Kevin Gilbride) would've put the Jets in the playoffs, but the loss knocked them out. This was Bruce Coslet's last game as Jets head coach.

Dec. 21, 1997: Lions 13, Jets 10

Jets fans remember this game well for a gamble by Bill Parcells, who asked Leon Johnson to throw a halfback option. Johnson's pass was intercepted in the end zone by Bryant Westbrook midway through the fourth quarter. The Lions held on for the win, keeping the Jets from a playoff spot. Barry Sanders cleared 2,000 yards rushing for the season earlier in a victory that clinched a playoff spot for the Lions.

Dec. 24, 2000: Ravens 34, Jets 20

The Jets were 9-4 and needed one victory to make the playoffs, but they lost three straight, including a deplorable loss to the Lions in Week 15. The Jets blew an early 14-0 lead to the eventual Super Bowl champs in the season finale and lost 34-20. Jermaine Lewis, returning after the tragic death of his son, led the way with two punt returns for touchdowns. Chris McAlister returned a Vinny Testaverde interception 98 yards for a score to put the Ravens ahead for good. Al Groh left the Jets after one season.

Jan. 6, 2002: Jets 24, Raiders 22

One week after John Hall missed a kick to cost the Jets a game, he nailed a 53-yard field goal with 59 seconds remaining to win at Oakland and put the Jets into the postseason. A loss would've eliminated them. The Raiders would beat the Jets in the playoffs a week later.

Dec. 29, 2002: Jets 42, Packers 17

The Jets needed some help in the 1 p.m. games and got it when the Patriots rallied late to beat the Dolphins in overtime. That put the Jets in a win-and-in scenario at 4 p.m. The game was a Jets romp. Chad Pennington threw four touchdown passes, and the defense shut down Packers quarterback Brett Favre. The win made the Jets AFC East champs.

Dec. 31, 2006: Jets 23, Raiders 3

To make the playoffs, the Jets had to win at Miami in Week 16, then beat the Raiders in the season finale. The Jets managed both under rookie head coach Eric Mangini. With the loss, the Raiders clinched the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. Pennington was 22 for 30 for 157 yards and a touchdown in the win.