The Jets pulled off an inspiring performance and took down the Cincinnati Bengals, 34-31, at MetLife Stadium on Halloween. The Jets (2-5) erased a 31-20 deficit in the fourth quarter as Mike White threw TD passes to Ty Johnson and Tyler Kroft, and was even on the receiving end of a 2-point conversion pass from Jamison Crowder. The decisive TD came after the Jets' first interception of the season — a fantastic individual effort from DE Shaq Lawson, who batted a Joe Burrow pass into the air and came down with the pick. White played the game of his life in his first NFL start.
A week after throwing a TD pass on his first NFL attempt, White one-upped himself in his first NFL start and became the first Jets QB to throw for 400-plus yards (405) in his first start. No Jets passer had thrown for 392 passing yards in a game since Vinny Testaverde in the 2000 regular-season finale at Baltimore. Ten different players caught a pass from White as the third-year veteran was decisive with his reads and on target with his throws. White did have a pair of interceptions and he returned after a scare in the third quarter, heading to the injury tent for four plays while Josh Johnson finished a scoring drive that ended on a Matt Ammendola field goal that tied the game at 17.
"Going out and watching film on them to begin the week and see what they did on defense, I knew there would be completions out there," White said. "I knew it was just a matter of making the right decisions, guys running great routes, tight turns and catching the ball and getting those extra yards. That's what we did out there and I think that's what led to the success of the offense."
RB Michael Carter, a fourth-round pick from North Carolina, followed up his 104-yard outing in New England with close to 200 yards against the Bengals. He hauled in 9 catches for 95 yards and also had 77 yards on the ground on 15 carries. His first quarter TD was his third in four games.
"Obviously I didn't do it alone," Carter said. "I'm really thankful for the opportunity that I'm presented with. I felt like I did some good stuff in other areas and I just feel myself growing as a player. I'm just going to continue to get better each day. This performance can't save me on Thursday, so I have to get back to the drawing board."
RIP First-Quarter Drought
The Jets changed things up in a big way on Sunday, sending offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur upstairs to the coaches' booth and electing to take the ball after winning the coin toss. They then promptly marched 75 yards on a 10-play drive that culminated on Carter's 8-yard TD run. White completed all seven of his passes on the drive and started the game a perfect 11 of 11. White became the first Jets QB to hit 10 in a row from start of a game since Chad Pennington hit his first 14 at Miami in 2003.
"A lot of those plays early went underneath, but they were designed shots," HC Robert Saleh said. "Give credit to Cincinnati, they took away the shots early. Mike LaFleur wanted to be aggressive early, but Mike White was really good in taking what the defense gave. The defense gave space underneath and he gave it to his playmakers and made plays."
But White fired too hot on his 12th and 14th attempts and deflected passes were intercepted by the Bengals as turnovers were the only thing that slowed the Jets early. They totaled 261 yards in the first half and ended on a high note, answering a 17-point Bengals run with an impressive two-minute drive that ended on White's 8-yard scoring pass to Braxton Berrios with 15 seconds remaining. That TD followed what looked to be an amazing one-handed scoring grab from Keelan Cole that was taken off the board after a replay review.
After the game Saleh said that LaFleur will stay upstairs until further notice. He also said that White would be the starter when the Jets face the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night.
See Best Images from the Game at MetLife Stadium
With C.J. Mosley back in the lineup and Jarrad Davis making his first regular-season appearance for the Green & White, the Jets defense delivered with a great response following the rout in New England.
Bengals S Jessie Bates not only intercepted White's rocket that Jamison Crowder deflected, but the talented safety returned the theft to the Jets' 1-yard-line after Jets rookie WR Elijah Moore chased him from behind. Then the Jets defense stopped RB Joe Mixon for negative gains on successive plays, Ja'Marr Chase dropped a would-be TD on third down and Quinnen Williams sacked Burrow on fourth down. It was the Jets' first goal-line stand after facing first-and-goal at their 1-yard line since 2009 against Drew Brees' Saints.
Two plays later White was intercepted again when a fastball to Carter was deflected and picked by Bengals LB Germaine Pratt. That gave Cincinnati the ball at the plus-15 and they eventually would cash in with a Mixon 1-yard score on the first play of the second quarter, tying the game 7-7.
"I thought the guys did an unbelievable job executing, especially in that first half," Saleh said. "We turned the ball over three times, we get some short fields. We always talk about give us a blade of grass and we'll protect it. It showed up. Even in the second half, finally got the interception bug off our back. All it takes is one, I don't care how you get it. We got the turnover at the perfect time and they battled their butts off -- didn't flinch and were able to finish in the four-minute."
The Jets had two sacks in the first half and limited the Bengals to just 1-of-5 on third down. Despite three first-half turnovers from the Jets, the Green & White trailed 17-14 at halftime.
Mosley led the defensive effort with 10 tackles and the Jets totaled 3 sacks and 7 PDs. Chase, who had 201 yards receiving against the Ravens, was limited to 3 catches for 32 yards on nine targets.
"We took that personal," Lawson said of last week's loss. "As a D-line, it starts with us. We put it on us and we had to do better. We knew we had a great team with the Bengals coming in here. We knew we were going to get their best shot and we had to find a way to win, and help the offense out. The offense did its part today. I was impressed with White, man. He went out there and showed his thing."
The Jets inactives were QB Zach Wilson, WR Corey Davis, DE Bryce Huff, RB Tevin Coleman, TE/FB Trevon Wesco, DT Jonathan Marshall, QB Joe Flacco. … WR Denzel Mims got the start on the outside in place of Davis and had one reception for 17 yards on the opening drive. He finished with 2 catches for 30 yards and exited with a finger injury in the fourth quarter. … CB Michael Carter II left the game with a knee injury, but returned. … LT George Fant left the game with an ankle injury in the second quarter and Chuma Edoga replaced him. … 2020 third-round pick DE Jabari Zuniga, who was elevated from the practice squad for Sunday's game, had a strip-sack. The sack and forced fumble were each the first of his career.