As Calvin Pace walked across the locker room .toward the interview area, Jets defensive coordinator Bob Sutton reached out his right hand.
Actually, his fist.
One presumes Sutton expressed a similar sentiment to most of the
players on the defensive side of the ball. Although Brett Favre in some
sense is always the story, the group most deserving of the headlines
from yesterday's 26-14 victory over the Bengals was the defense.
The unit won the battle up front, holding the Bengals to 43 yards on 21
carries (a 2.0-yard average), and made the afternoon difficult for Ryan
Fitzpatrick, who started in place of the injured Carson Palmer.
Fitzpatrick, sacked five times and hurried six times in only his fifth
career start, went 20-for-33 for 152 yards. The Jets outgained the
"We knew that Fitzpatrick likes to scramble, and since Carson Palmer
wasn't going to play, we figured that they may go more with the running
game today," said Pace, who had four tackles, two tackles for loss, one
sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
End Shaun Ellis, part of last year's defense that ranked 29th against
the rush (134.8), pointed to the acquisition of 359-pound nose tackle
Kris Jenkins as the most significant reason for the drastic improvement
against the run. The Jets entered as the league's fifth-toughest team
to run against (75.5).
"We just look at it like, .nobody's running the ball [on us]," Ellis
said. "That's what we demand of ourselves is to shut down the run game.
If we don't do anything else, they ain't .running the ball."
The Bengals, like the rest of the Jets' opponents this season, didn't,
and the defense, torched in the second half by the .Cardinals two weeks
ago, pitched a shutout in the second half this time.
The Jets (3-2) won their second straight and improved to 3-0 under Eric
Mangini following their bye week. The Bengals, as they've done much of
the season, made it interesting, but they still fell to 0-6.
"I thought it started with being able to stop the run, and that's a
problem that we had last year against Cincinnati," Mangini said,
referring to last October's 38-31 road loss in which backup Kenny
Watson ran for 130 of the Bengals' 177 rushing yards. "It started
How it started for the Bengals yesterday was ideal.
One could sense a "same old Jets" vibe from the crowd on the opening
possession when, on third-and-3 from the Jets' 31, Bengals end Antwan
Odom came in unimpeded from the right side to strip Favre of the ball.
Safety Chinedum Ndukwe picked it up at the 15 and scored untouched for
a 7-0 lead just 1:24 into the game.
But the Jets quickly responded as the shifty Leon Washington returned
the kickoff 46 yards to the Bengals' 47-yard line. Washington had two
kickoff returns for 65 yards and, even more importantly, five punt
returns for 77 yards, a 15.4 average. Washington was the biggest reason
for the staggering difference in starting field position. The Jets
started, on average, at their 46; the Bengals, at their 20.
"That was the key to the ballgame: field position," Jets tackle Damien Woody said.
The Jets didn't always take advantage, but they did in the first
quarter. After Washington's long return, Favre ended a 10-play drive
with a 2-yard pass to Thomas Jones, the first of the running back's
.career-best three scores, tying it at 7. Jones also ran for 65 yards
and two touchdowns on 17 carries.
His 7-yard run with 7:57 left in the second quarter made it 17-7. He
added a 1-yarder with 2:22 left in the fourth that put the Jets ahead
Fitzpatrick led a 14-play, 66-yard drive that ended with the
quarterback scoring on a 1-yard run with eight seconds left in the
first half to make it 17-14, but the Jets outscored the Bengals 9-0 in
the second half.
Favre was economical in .finishing 25-for-33 for 189 yards and a
touchdown, but his day included two ugly .interceptions and the fumble.
Still, no one was complaining afterward, and with the defense
.asserting itself and the .Raiders (1-4) and Chiefs (1-4) up next, the
Jets seem ready to take advantage of a soft .October schedule.
Favre, during the two consecutive losses in September, said doubt had
crept into the locker room, but yesterday he said he's seen that go in
the other .direction.
"I think each week with this team, there's a lot less doubt," Favre
said. "I'm not going to say that we're going to go on a winning spree.
I'd like to think so, but I think there are some positive vibes taking
place here, and that's how you start winning."
Jets Beat Bengals, 26-14
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