The Jets gobbled up the Cincinnati Bengals on Thanksgiving, defeating them 26-10. After a lackluster first half for the Jets offense, “One-Shoe” Brad Smith, the Jets’ utility man, sparked New York’s big second half, which improved their record to 9-2 and keeps them atop the AFC East. For the first time in what seems like the entire season, the defense and special teams were able to bail out the offense.
Brad Smith had the best game of his 5-year career on Thursday night. He recorded 200 total yards on offense and special teams. On the second play of the 3rd quarter, Smith took an end-around 53 yards to the house to give the Jets a 10-7 lead. After a Bengals’ field goal in the 4th quarter made the score 17-10, Brad Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards, the last 45 with only one shoe, to ice the game for the Jets and make the score 24-10. Smith’s impact this season had not been noticed until this game. He has been very effective on kick returns all season, although the “Seminole,” the Jets’ version of the wildcat, has not been as successful as it was last year. Smith’s versatility can take the Jets a long way throughout the rest of this season.
After being called “average” by Terrell Owens last week, cornerback Darrelle Revis made the Bengals’ veteran receiver look well below average. Owens was held to only 3 catches for 17 yards. Jim Leonhard and Antonio Cromartie intercepted passes from Carson Palmer on consecutive drives in the 2nd quarter, the first two interceptions forced by the Jets since week 5. The Jets’ defense has had trouble all season getting to the quarterback, but managed to sack Palmer 3 times including a safety in the 4th quarter. Surprisingly, this was the first time the Jets have won this season while giving up less than 14 points.
This win increased the Jets’ streak to 4 straight victories. Quarterback Mark Sanchez was not as effective as he has been in the last four games. After the game, Sanchez laid all the blame on himself and admitted that the offense faltered because of his poor play. Gang Green showed remnants of last season’s top ranked rush offense, producing 170 yards on the ground. Jets fans and Sanchez can rest easy knowing that the rest of the team can pick up the slack when the young quarterback is not at his best.
The Jets head to Foxborough next Monday night for a primetime matchup with the rival New England Patriots. Both teams are now 9-2 and are tied for first in the AFC East. This matchup could likely determine which team will win the division and possibly a first round bye in the playoffs. Check back later this week for a more in-depth look into this game.