Sack Party: Even without one of their most gifted athletic players in DL Sheldon Richardson, the Jets released the hounds after Bengals QB Andy Dalton. They racked up seven sacks (five sacks in the first half alone) as Leonard Williams had 2.5, DL Steve McLendon collected 2 and Muhammad Wilkerson added 1.5. It was the first multi-sack career games for both Williams and McLendon. The seven sacks tied for the most ever by a Green & White defense on opening day.
Red Zone Blues: The Jets offense, which finished No. 3 i in red zone efficiency last year, left points on the field and finished 2 of 5 overall inside the 20. They collected just one field goal on first-and-goals from the 4-yard line and 3-yard lines in the first and fourth quarters respectively. Also in the final quarter, the Jets had to settle for Nick Folk's third field goal when a good-looking drive stalled at the Cincinnati 6. On fourth and a long yard, Todd Bowles opted for Folk's 23-yard kick. The Jets took a 22-20 lead, but the Bengals would come right back and get the game-winning kick as Mike Nugent nailed a 47-yarder with 58 seconds on the clock.
Bengals' Big Plays: Dalton is one of the best vertical throwers in football and he had three passes today that covered 40 yards. He gave the visitors a lead in the second with a 54-yard TD to WR A.J. Green on a play where it appeared CB Darrelle Revis expected safety help. And his 49-yarder to WR Brandon LaFell, who got a step on CB Marcus Williams, was the key play on a drive that resulted with a RB Jeremy Hill TD.
Forté Makes Impact: In his first game with the Green & White, RB Matt Forte delivered with his versatility. He had a 14-yard run on the first possession along with a 10-yard reception, and then he had a 24-yard catch and run on the team's second possession. Forté's 10-yard carry in the second preceded a fine back-shoulder scoring strike from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to Eric Decker. He finished with 96 yards on the ground while averaging 4.4 yards a carry and also had 59 yards receiving. He is as smooth as advertised, blessed with great vision and cutback ability.
Opening Act: Emphasizing a fast start, the Jets checked that box Sunday. After OLB Lorenzo Mauldin sacked Dalton to force a three-and-out, Fitzpatrick methodically led the Green & White down the field on a 10-play that drive that culminated on a scoring toss to WR Quincy Enunwa. It was Enunwa''s first career TD as four players not named Fitzpatrick had touches on the opening possession. Enunwa finished with a career-high 7 receptions.
Rookie Spark: Trailing 10-7 in the second stanza, the Jets got a jolt from Jalin Marshall. The Ohio State product, an undrafted free agent who made the opening day roster, returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards. Five plays later, Fitz got the Jets back on top with the sharp pass to Decker for a 15-yard TD. Folk pushed the extra point wide right, so the Jets went up just 13-10.
Missed Opportunity: Marcus Williams set the Jets up for more points late in the opening stanza, but the Jets couldn't take advantage of field position in plus-territory following his interception. Folk's 22-yard field goal was blocked and the Jets had to settle for a 7-3 advantage heading into the second quarter.
Top Images from the Season-Opener on Sept. 11
Alternating Tackles: Ben Ijalana got the start for the Jets at RT, but Brent Qvale was in on the second series. Bowles said he might use both during the week and he indeed just did that. Continuing to alternate series, Qvale started for the Jets in the second half.
Notables: Defensive back Josh Shaw picked Fitzpatrick off in the final seconds as the Jets, down 23-22, attempted to mount a final drive with no timeouts…With Richardson serving a one-game suspension, rookie DE Lawrence Thomas was an important part of the game plan as the Jets employed a lot of four-man fronts… When the Jets went with three-down linemen, Long Island native Mike Catapano lined up across from Mauldin at OLB… Folk pushed a 45-yarder to the right in the second quarter… Both defenses dominated on third down as the Bengals finished 3-of-11 and the Jets were 4-of-12.