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Jets D vs. Benson: Something's Gotta Give


Similar to the Jets, running the ball has been the Bengals' offensive strength all season.

Cedric Benson, the AFC's fifth-leading rusher with 1,251 yards who was held out of the Week 17 game against the Jets, is expected to play in the AFC Wild Card rematch in Cincinnati on Saturday.

"He has great vision, has great moves, good adjustment," said Jets DT Sione Pouha, who grabbed 59 tackles this season, second on the D-line, while filling the role vacated by the injured Kris Jenkins. "He's not a good running back for nothing. He's done his thing and earned his stripes."

According to Jets LB Calvin Pace, the Bengals have four quality backs that the Green & White have to be aware of. The combination of Benson, rookie Bernard Scott, third-year man Brian Leonard and seventh-year veteran Larry Johnson combined to help produce the NFL's ninth-ranked run offense, which averaged 128.5 yards per game.

Intimidating for the Jets' defensive front?

"They're going to throw the whole house at us and we're going to be ready for it," said DE Marques Douglas, who leads the line with 77 tackles and whose 46.5 tackles for loss from 2003-09 are second-most among all active D-linemen and tied for third among all active players.

"Nobody has really run on us all year," DE Shaun Ellis said. "It's just a matter of going out there, plugging up the holes and making the tackles. We played against a lot of good backs."

DE Mike DeVito is not one to pay a lot of attention to the numbers on the opponents' jerseys.

"It doesn't matter who's out there," DeVito told "They have good players and they have a good offensive line, but we're going to come out the way we are capable of playing. It doesn't matter who's running or who's blocking, we'll do what we're here to do."

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis decided to keep Benson, his leading rusher, on the sidelines with a playoff berth locked up prior to Sunday. Lewis won't blame the offensive struggles at the Meadowlands on the fifth-year featured back not being out on the field.

""One player doesn't make a difference in any football game I've ever been a part of," he told reporters on Tuesday. "I'm waiting for that to happen."

Benson singlehandedly won't be a 37-point difference maker against the Jets' stout defense, but he could have an impact. Bengals QB Carson Palmer said it would mean a lot to have Benson alongside him at Paul Brown Stadium.

"He'll make a tremendous difference," Palmer said. "He's been our guy all year. He brings an attitude and a toughness to the game that we love. Having him back, and especially having him healthy with the week off and really getting rested, he'll be ready to roll."

In addition to Benson's deactivation and a few defensive starters who sat out with injuries, the Bengals took out a majority of their remaining starters, including Palmer, in the second half.

"They didn't give it their best effort, nor did we," said Marques Douglas. "We're looking on film for ways that we can improve, knowing that they're going to be ready, enthusiastic about playing in front of their home crowd. We're just looking to get better."

The Bengals will have to improve on third down. They went 1-for-11 on Sunday against the Jets D, which led the NFL this season with 64 three-and-out drives and allowed conversions only 31.5 percent of the time.

"When we can keep them in third-and-long, we can really get after it," said DeVito. "Third down is something we look forward to because that's when we really shut it down and the blitzes are coming, and we're keeping offenses on their toes on what we're going to do."

The defense is peaking at the right time. In the last six games the unit has held opponents to 180.7 yards and 7.8 points per game and allowed only an 18.5 percent conversion rate on third down (15-of-81).

"In order to score points, they have to stay on the field," said Douglas. "In order for us to keep being productive, we have to get off the field. Something is going to have to give.

"Playing in the AFC Wild Card Game is going to be tough. There is going to be the need for a lot of Epsom salts after this game."

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