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(Saturday, January 9th)
Final Score: NY Jets 24, Cincinnati 14
Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - Shonn Greene and Thomas Jones each rushed for a score to headline New York's top-ranked rushing attack, and the Jets beat the Bengals for the second straight week, 24-14, to advance to the AFC's divisional round and extend Cincinnati's playoff win drought to 19 seasons.
The rookie Greene ran for 135 yards on 21 carries for the Jets (10-7), who won a playoff game for the first time since the 2004 season. They beat the Bengals, 37-0, in Week 17 to earn a postseason spot. Jones finished with 34 yards on 15 touches to help New York, the fifth seed, advance to face either Indianapolis or San Diego next week.
Mark Sanchez, also a rookie, threw for 182 yards and a touchdown on 12-of-15 passing, but more importantly did not turn the ball over. Dustin Keller added 99 yards and a score on three catches, as the Jets did not commit any turnovers in the win.
"(Sanchez) wanted this game in the worst way," said Jets head coach Rex Ryan. "He felt confident, he felt comfortable, and like I say -- one of these days he's going to be the biggest thing we've got on this football team, the best thing we've got. Maybe that day is coming sooner than later."
Cedric Benson ran for a franchise playoff-record 169 yards and a score on 21 carries for the Bengals (10-7), who have not recorded a playoff win since January 6, 1991 -- the longest such drought in the NFL for any franchise that has made the playoffs at least once.
Carson Palmer threw for just 146 yards with a score and an interception on 18- of-36 throws, as Cincinnati committed two turnovers -- both in New York territory. Former Jet Laveranues Coles had six catches for 48 yards and a touchdown, but Chad Ochocinco, whose 120-game catch streak ended last week against the Jets, had just two catches for 28 yards in defeat.
"It's very disappointing to get to this point, especially this far," Ochocinco said. "(It's) only a four-game season -- I keep thinking about again, a four- game season. I know we could pull this through, but unfortunately it didn't go in our favor."
As playoff games so often do, Saturday's contest featured a hero role for one kicker and a goat for the other. Jets kicker Jay Feely was forced into punting duty after Steve Weatherford came down with an illness, and he put three of his seven punts inside the Bengals 20 while making his only field goal attempt. On the other hand, Cincinnati kicker Shayne Graham missed both of his field goal tries from 35 and 28 yards away, respectively.
Graham missed a 35-yard field goal with a chance to draw the Bengals to within four with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third, and the Jets responded with a scoring drive to build a two-touchdown lead.
The series went 75 yards in eight plays, culminating in Jones' scamper up the middle from nine yards away. Jerricho Cotchery made a nifty catch on the first play of the drive, barely keeping his toes in play for an 18-yard gain, and the only third down was converted when Sanchez hit Braylon Edwards on a 16- yard slant play to set up the score and a 21-7 lead with 2:18 to go.
The Bengals were able to keep their hopes alive early in the fourth, as Benson burst through the right side nearly untouched for a 47-yard touchdown run with 11:04 to play, cutting the team's deficit in half.
The Jets, though, responded with another scoring drive. Sanchez hit Keller on a short pass to the left side, and Keller cut to his right to avoid a defender for a 43-yard gain to the Bengals' 23. New York got to the two before a 20- yard Feely field goal with 5:47 left made it a 10-point game.
"That was a turning point," Sanchez said. "We wanted to score a touchdown, but for Jay to come in and kick a field goal like that -- it's hard to sustain a long drive and come away with points. That's what we really fixed from a couple games earlier in the season. We're not beating ourselves."
Cincinnati drove deep into New York territory with just under four minutes to play, but Graham pushed a 28-yard attempt just to the right for another crucial miss. After a Jets punt, the Bengals' final possession ended with a pair of sacks.
Bernard Scott appeared to put the Bengals in scoring position right away on a frigid 21-degree day that felt like it was nine degrees, returning the opening kickoff 56 yards to the Jets' 36. On 3rd-and-4, Palmer threw a high pass to Coles, who caught the ball above his head at the 26 before fumbling the ball away to New York.
"I was really just throwing the ball a little high," Palmer said. "I don't know if it was early game jitters or not, but I missed a couple early, and I made it difficult on my receivers early."
The Jets punted on their first drive, using the kicker Feely to replace Weatherford, and Cincinnati's Rico Murray grabbed a bouncing ball and sprinted 23 yards to the New York 45. Benson exploded up the middle on the next play for a 19-yard gain, and Palmer later hit Coles on a crossing route near the left pylon on 3rd-and-4 for an 11-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 7:07 left in the first quarter.
Despite holding a seven-point lead, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis wasted both of his team challenges in the first quarter, losing both.
The game was nearly tied late in the first quarter, as Sanchez had a perfectly thrown potential 41-yard touchdown pass travel right through Edwards' hands. New York eventually punted on the series.
Cincinnati went three-and-out from inside its own 20, and the Jets regained possession on the opposing 47. After Jones ran for eight yards, Greene took a counter pitch around the left end for a 39-yard sprint to the end zone for a tie game with just under 12 minutes remaining.
The lack of challenges came back to haunt the Bengals before halftime. After Darrelle Revis intercepted a pass intended for Ochocinco deep in Jets territory, New York had the ball at its own 43.
On 3rd-and-12, Sanchez hit Cotchery on a slant route for a 14-yard gain, and he then found Keller wide open down the right sideline around the 20. Keller came close to going out of bounds near the goal-line but dragged a defender into the end zone for a 45-yard score with 6:19 minutes left for a 14-7 lead, which held through the half.
The Jets got the ball first in the second half and ran seven straight times to gain the Cincinnati 24-yard line. Feely drilled a 42-yard field goal, but a holding penalty negated the three points; he then hit a 52-yarder, but the play was whistled dead for a false start, forcing the team to punt.
The Bengals then drove down the field using a Benson 27-yard run and a 26-yard pass interference penalty on Revis, but Graham's 35-yard field goal attempt veered wide left to keep the seven-point margin intact.
The Jets will face the Colts next week if the Patriots beat the Ravens on Sunday or the Chargers if the Ravens win...New York leads the all-time playoff series with Cincinnati, 2-0...Bengals linebacker Rashad Jeanty broke his leg on the opening kickoff...Coming into the game, the team that won the turnover battle in a playoff contest won 84 percent of the time...This was the fourth playoff game in NFL history where both starting quarterbacks played for the same college (Southern California)...The Jets all-time record for single-game rushing yards in the postseason is held by Freeman McNeil, who ran for 202 yards against the Bengals in 1983. Greene did set the team record for longest rush in a playoff game with his 39-yard touchdown...Benson broke Ickey Woods' record for most rushing yards in a playoff game by a Bengal. Woods ran for 126 yards in a 1988 playoff game...Both teams finished with 171 yards rushing.
01/09 21:54:05 ET
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