Rex Ryan, Willie Colon and many other Jets were correct about the challenge that would be presented to them at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati.
In the first half all thoughts of busting their W-L picket-fence pattern of this season with a wild road win went out the window as we had to first worry about trying to catching an orange-and-black tiger by the tail. Andy Dalton threw for four first-half touchdowns, three of them to WR Marvin Jones, and the two teamed up one more time late in the third.
Then safety Chris Crocker's 32-yard interception-return TD off of Geno Smith on the first play of the second half snuffed out the Jets' last best chance to get back into this game, Adam "Pacman" Jones added another Smith pick-six to drive in the final nail, and we suffered a 49-9 loss that dropped us back to .500 at 4-4 at the paws of the Bengals (6-2).
"That was ugly, to say the least," Rex said after the game. "We're really fortunate that it only counts as one loss because you get your butt kicked like that, you know, we're fortunate that that's all it is."
We're still without our first two-game win streak since 2012 and our first two-games-above-.500 record since 2011. And we're facing our third consecutive division leader at home next week in the Saints before getting to our bye week. And that's a game when we'd prefer to extend the picket fence just a little further with another much-needed win.
It was rough sledding all afternoon for the Green & White in "the Jungle." Smith was 20-for-30 but for only 159 yards and the two pick-sixes (first time a Jets QB did that in a game since Richard Todd in '82 and again in '83, both vs. Miami). David Nelson caught eight balls for 80 yards. Muhammad Wilkerson had another sack and his first pro interception to give the Jets a sliver of hope in the first half. Josh Cribbs did some nice returning and kick coverage when he wasn't being swarmed over and Ryan Quigley had some nice punting.
And Nick Folk continued his career year, hitting all three of his field goal tries, including his first 50-yarder of the season to cut our deficit to 35-9 with 4:49 left in the third quarter. Folk has hit all 19 of his field goal tries this season and is three short of Pat Leahy's franchise-record 22 in a row in the 1985-86 seasons.
"We just couldn't get seven on the board," Smith said. "We kept getting three, kept getting three. We kind of got behind the eightball there."
The Bengals stuffed our rush lanes and put Smith under pressure with their defense while striking long and often on offense and outgaining us, 402 yards to 240. After Pacman reversed Smith, Matt Simms came on with 13:04 to play for his first pro action.
A Bad First-Half Harbinger
On the game's first drive, Andy Dalton was in hurryup mode as he distributed the ball to all his receivers and twice barely missed longballs. Then Antonio Cromartie was flagged for grabbing Mohamed Sanu at the Jets 9, setting up the hosts with first-and-goal. On the next play, Dalton back-shouldered Marvin Jones against rookie CB Dee Milliner for the quick 7-0 lead. The 10 plays and 80 yards on the drive matched New England's opening drive the week before.
Our offense didn't fare nearly as well on its opening series, a 3-and-out that was ended with the first meeting of the day between Genos, with Atkins taking down Smith for a third-down sack.
And right back came the Stripes with a seven-play, 68-yard sprint to Dalton's 4-yard TD feather to wide-open TE Jermaine Gresham in the back of the end zone. It was the first time we had given up two touchdowns on our first two defensive series of a game since Game 5 of 2006 at Jacksonville.
Not only were the Jets down 14-0 but they were facing third-and-13 at their 17. But as we know, third-and-long has been friendly to Geno and the offense, and it was again this time as Smith tossed an outlet pass to Bilal Powell, who took it 17 yards for the first first down of the day. That momentum was short-lived though, as S Reggie Nelson sacked Smith on third down to force another punt.
The pattern continued. Dalton to A.J. Green against Cromartie on the first play went for 53 yards to the Jets 11. Then Giovani Bernard took a pass to the 1½-yard line before our defense rose to the occasion with three straight plays that stopped Cincinnati from not only not scoring a TD but not picking up the half yard for the first down.
We couldn't move much from there, but then the Bengals committed their first error of the day as Dalton's dumpoff pass was batted by Muhammad Wilkerson to Sheldon Richardson, who tipped it back to Wilk — the first interception by a Jets D-lineman since Shane Burton picked off Trent Green in Game 9 of the 2001 season vs. Kansas City.
That set up Nick Folk for a 45-yard field goal, making him 17-for-17 on the season and trimming the visitors' deficit to 14-3 with 9:09 to go in the first half.
The reprieve was brief though. Dalton picked on Milliner with passes of 24 yards to Sanu and a 45-yard catch-and-run by Jones to the 6. Milliner was benched "because physically he wasn't getting it done," Rex explained. And when Darrin Walls came in for Dee, Dalton went after him too with another back-shoulder dart to Jones for the third-down completion and TD to make it 21-3.
Finally, Geno and the Jets offense got moving with their first double-digit-yardage drive of the half, 50 yards, in fact, to the 30 before stalling again and bringing on Folk for a 47-yard make (18-for-18) and trimming the deficit to 21-6.
But with 1:08 left in the half, the Bengals weren't done. Brandon Tate ripped off a 71-yard kickoff return, setting up Dalton's fourth TD pass of the game and Jones' third scoring grab, a neat catch behind Walls and in front of S Dawan Landry, finished off with a toe drag to make it 28-6 at the half.
"Overall bad day for us, myself included," Geno said, "so we've got to erase it and get back to work and just focus on next week because we've got a huge task in front of us and we can't dwell on this. We can't let it affect us too much."
Set to take on Drew Brees and the Saints next Sunday at MetLife Stadium, Rex Ryan said it best: "If we don't play better than we did today then hell yeah, that guy will break every record known to man against us. We'll play better."