If I told you that Andy Dalton would be sacked seven times, Mike Nugent would miss a late field goal leading to a short field and go-ahead field goal for the Jets, and the Jets would run for 152 yards while the Bengals only tallied 57 – you’d think this was a loss for the boys in stripes. You’d think wrong.
Andy Dalton turned in one of his best performances despite the Jets seven sacks – logging a perfect passer rating of 158.3 while throwing to AJ Green whilst entrenched on Revis Island. Yes, Dalton and Green made perennial Pro-Bowler Darelle Revis look pedestrian by posting 10 catches on 10 targets for 152 yards and a TD. AJ was a machine, absolutely unstoppable catching all but one pass from Dalton – and he nearly pulled off an amazing catch on the one incompletion. For the day, Green hauled in 12 passes for 180 yards and a very nice 54-yard TD reception over Revis. Jeremy Hill added a TD on a nice bruising run in the red zone. I took note of two things on Hill’s run: 1 – he had two hands on the ball when there was contact and 2 – he didn’t celebrate, simply handing the ball to the ref and shaking his teammates’ hands.
All wasn’t sunny for the offense. The line struggled against a very physical, stunt-heavy Jets defense. Watching the film, I would assign two of the seven sacks to Dalton – holding the ball a little long, your run-of-the-mill coverage sack. That means the offensive line let Dalton get sacked five times – way too many. Several times, it appeared Russell Bodine was on skates as he was pushed back into Dalton’s lap. It also appeared that Kevin Zeitler was either confused or frustrated as he walked away from several piles shaking his head and unstrapping his chinstrap angrily. I still think this is one of the better offensive lines in the league; but, they are definitely going to have to step their game up to help out Andy. A 3.0-yards-per-rush average isn’t stellar either. Run blocking has to get better if this offense is going to have any success.
On to the defense. The Jets gashed the Bengals on the ground, logging up several large runs on their way to 152 yards on the ground. This has to tighten up as the season progresses, and the return of Vontaze Burfict will definitely help. Karlos Dansby and Vinny Rey led the team with 11 and nine tackles, respectively. Solid performance from those two linebackers; making up for the disappearance of Rey Maualuga. According to the stat sheet, his only appearance was when he led the team onto the field carrying the American flag. Fortunately, the DBs turned in a good performance – holding Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall to a combined five catches for 69 yards. However, the weak link in the defensive backfield was Dre Kirkpatrick. He struggled, especially covering Quincy Enunwa who had seven receptions for 54 yards. Kirkpatrick’s play has to get better. On the flip side, Josh Shaw had a very good game with a game-sealing interception and a big third-down tackle inside the five early in the game forcing the Jets to settle for a field goal attempt.
This leaves the last few lines of this article for some oft-maligned players Margus Hunt and Mike Nugent. For the first time since he was drafted, the Hunt made his presence known with a blocked field goal, a couple of tackles, and some disruption in the Jets’ backfield. Obviously, the blocked field goal was massive – as the Bengals won by a point. As for Nugent, he pushed a 52-yard field goal right late in the fourth quarter – leading to a drive where the Jets took the lead with a field goal of their own. That said, he hit both extra points (something Nick Folk couldn’t do, ultimately costing his team the game) and executed perfectly at the end of the first half when the field goal unit sprinted on with 10 seconds left and no time outs.
A win against a playoff-caliber team on the road, in an emotionally charged atmosphere on the 15th anniversary of 9/11. I’ll take it – on to that team that shall not be named that wears yellow and black.