For the New York Jets, they felt that they were being overlooked heading into the 2009 NFL Playoffs. Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati, they put the other four AFC teams left on notice. Led by a great outing by rookie QB Mark Sanchez and a defense that held Carson Palmer in check, the Jets will move on to round two after a 24-14 win.
Sanchez was on his game, not making any real mistakes in going 12-for-15 for 182 yards and a touchdown, putting up a QB rating of 139.4. He totally outplayed his fellow former USC QB in Palmer, who was just a bit off all day, throwing high and never getting into a groove with the likes of Chad Ochocinco. Palmer was 18-for-36 for 146 yards with a pick and a TD.
The Jets will no move on to round two, as they will play either the Colts or the Chargers. If the Pats beat the Ravens Sunday, the Jets move to Indy to take on the Colts. If the Ravens score the upset on the road, the Jets fly to the west coast to play San Diego.
Things started good for the Bengals, as they were able to get an early lead after gaining some good field position early in the first quarter. Cincy got a good return by Rico Murray, as it set them up at the Jets 45-yard line. From there, the cats put together a solid 7-play, 45-yard drive that saw Cedric Benson go for 19 yards, and then six yards two plays later. From the Jets 11 on 3rd-and-6 Palmer found Laveranues Coles on an out for the 11-yard score to give the Bengals a 7-0 lead at the 7:07 mark of the first quarter.
It took awhile for the Jets to finally get going on offense, but they were able to get going with a quick drive that started after a 3-and-out by the Bengals from their own 15-yard line. They got the ball at the 12:41 mark of the second quarter, and on first down got 8 yards from Thomas Jones, then on second down on a pitch to the weak side, Shon Greene raced 39 yards for a score that tied the game at 7 with 11:52 left in the first half.
Cincy put a drive together as Palmer drove them to the Jets 41, but Palmer went for Ochocinco, and it was picked off by Darrelle Revis, who took it back 20 yards. The Jets went right to work, as Jones ran twice for 6 yards, and then Sanchez hit Jerricho Cotchery for 15 yards to set them up at the Bengals 45. Then Sanchez rolled to his left, and threw deep to an open tight end Dustin Keller, who hauled it in and went the last 20 plus yards as he was being tackled for the touchdown to give the Jets a 14-7 lead.
The Jets D shut down the Bengals for the rest of the first half, and then after Shayne Graham missed a field goal for the Bengals in the third quarter, the Jets offense went to work. Starting on their own 25, Sanchez hit Cotchery for 18 yards, then Greene went for 15 yards to the Bengals 42. They picked their way down the field from there, as they hit a huge third down play as Braylon Edwards pulled in a 16-yard catch to the Bengals 9. The next play Jones went in from 9 yards out to give the Jets a 21-7 lead.
New York held that lead till early in the fourth quarter, as the Bengals struck on a quick drive to get back into the game. After a poor Jay Feely punt that set up the Bengals at their own 44, Palmer hit Ochocinco for 9 yards, then on the following play Benson broke right and found a hole, going 47 yards down the sideline for a score to close the deficit to 21-14 with plenty of time left.
Sanchez and the Jets would not wilt, as two plays after the kickoff, the rookie QB went play action, and found a wide open Keller for a short grab which he turned into a long gain, cutting into the middle of the field and going 43 yards to the Bengals 23-yard line. They were able to kill another four minutes off the clock, and finally from the Bengals two, Feely kicked a 20-yard field goal to make it 24-14.
The Bengals had a shot to close it to a one score game, as they went from their 37 to the Jets 11, but on a critical kick, Graham pushed the 28-yard field goal attempt wide right, ending what could have been a huge three points that the Bengals needed badly to make it a seven point game.
How big that would be, as the Bengals got the ball back, but a couple sacks ended any threat left in the worn out Bengals, who bow out and keep their streak of not having a playoff win in the last 19 years alive.
For the Jets, they move on, and anyone who overlooks them now, could be in for a rude awaking.