The Jets weren’t able to complete a perfect third quarter of their season, seeing their three-game win streak come to a screeching halt against the previously winless Bengals. The visitors opened the scoring, but the Bengals dominated from there with a 22-3 run the rest of the way as the Green & White fell to 4-8. After losing to the 0-7 Dolphins to start November, the Jets rebounded with their best stretch of 2019 with victories over the Giants, the Redskins and the Raiders. But December started against a dangerous Bengals (1-11) club and Cincinnati delivered its most complete effort this year at Paul Brown Stadium.
“Really, we never flipped the field," Adam Gase said. "We stayed backed up and created short fields for them, which, on the offense side, you get enough shots at a shorter field where you only have to go 60, 55 yards. That helps you. We just stayed pinned back. We could never get out of it.”
Andy Dalton was in control throughout for a Bengals offense had been scuffling, consistently moving the ball through the air. The defense bottled up Joe Mixon (19-44-2.3 YPC,1TD), but they had few answers for Dalton on a gusty afternoon in southern Ohio.
The Jets — a club that had totaled 34 points in each game Weeks 10-12 — never found its offensive rhythm. Sam Darnold was sacked four times and picked up a lot of his passing yardage late with the Bengals playing against the clock. The run game (17-62) rarely materialized against a defense that had been yielding an NFL-high 166.4 yards per game.
“The plan was, going in after halftime, to try to run the ball," Gase said. "The first drive, we end up going three-and-out, and we run it twice and get two yards, you know? We tried to stick a few runs in there and the next thing you know, we’re three-and-out, three and-out and it just didn’t feel like we had any sort of rhythm.”
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Dalton Was the Spark
Last Monday, the Bengals decided to bench rookie Ryan Finely in favor of Dalton. And it was easy to see why out of the gate as Dalton came out hot and remained steady, hitting on 22-of-37 passes for 243 yards and 1 TD. He was decisive with the ball, getting it of his hand quickly and delivering with accuracy. The Jets weren’t able to get to him in the first half and totaled two QB hits overall, including a Steve McLendon sack. The visitors dealt with more adversity at cornerback with both nickel corner Brian Poole (head) and starting outside corner Arthur Maulet (ankle) missing action in the first half, and Darryl Roberts getting some snaps on the inside and Maurice Canady receiving reps on the outside.
The Bengals scored on three of their possessions in the opening 30 minutes, storming to a 17-3 lead at the break.
“It sucks. We had a good game plan coming in," DL Henry Anderson said. "We didn’t do a good job executing. We left a lot of plays out there and had a lot of penalties. It hurts. We felt like we were starting to get into a rhythm, so we’ll just have to get back to work and fix the mistakes.”
Mistakes Too Much to Overcome
The Jets tied a franchise record with points on their opening possession for a sixth consecutive game, but they could have had more than Sam Ficken’s 42-yard field goal. Coach Adam Gase called a well-designed shot down the field on second-and-1 from the Cincinnati 40 and Darnold unleashed a long ball into the wind. But a sliding Robby Anderson couldn’t hang in the end zone. Three plays later, a wide open Braxton Berrios dropped a pass from Darnold that would have put the Jets inside the 20.
In addition to the near completions with Anderson and Berrios, the Jets hurt themselves with critical penalties. Bilal Powell’s 23-yard gain on a screen in the second stanza came back because of an illegal block call on Kelvin Beachum. Later, ILB Neville Hewitt was flagged for a 39-yard PI penalty as he was trying to get back in front of Cincinnati wideout Tyler Boyd.
Beachum’s hold of rookie DE Andrew Brown in third quarter resulted in a safety. Midway through the third quarter, Bell got free for what would have been a season-long 23-yard run, but instead the chunk gain was called back because of a hold on veteran RG Tom Compton. Later when Alex Erickson muffed a punt, the ball found its way out of bounds instead of a Jets’ takeaway in plus territory.
There weren’t any turnovers, but the penalty discrepancy was staggering: The Jets had 10 for 106 yards; the Bengals 2 for 15.
“It sucks. We have to figure out how to eliminate those in all three phases," Anderson said. "It’s a point of emphasis every week. The last three weeks we’ve done a good job on penalties and that helped us find some success. We have to get back to that and start playing more disciplined football.