wild-card weekend (part 1)…

Apologies to the 12 of you out there reading the blog for not getting these up sooner.  Sunday and Monday became busier days than expected and I’m only now just catching up on all the happenings from a very long (and mostly boring) wild card weekend.  I’ll do separate posts on each playoff game and give some thoughts about this week’s matchups.  I’ll also be doing a full Eagles season post-mortem in the next week or so.  But getting back to the weekend…

JETS 24, BENGALS 14 – A game that was much less in doubt than the final score would indicate.  While Cincinnati had the early lead 7-0, the Jets quickly took control of the game thanks to their aggressive defensive schemes and led 14-7 at halftime.  What struck me most about the Bengals in this game was that Carson Palmer looked to be a shell of his former self and the lack of a downfield passing threat really hindered the Bengals’ ability to score points.  Though Cedric Benson had one hell of a game and finished with 169 yards rushing and a TD, the Bengals’ offense was very one-sided and predictable.  The Jets knew that Cincinnati was going to have to throw the ball at some point and thanks to the attacking style employed by head coach Rex Ryan, they were ready for it.  Throw in the fact that Darrelle Revis is a MONSTER and was able to basically shut out Chad Johnson Ochocinco for 2 straight weeks, and it was always going to be an uphill climb for the Bengals.  The Jets were fired up from moment one and when Shonn Greene ripped off his 39 yard TD scamper early in the 2nd quarter, their mental edge over the Bengals seemed to grow.  Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez has a good day managing the game and playing mistake-free football.  His 45 yard TD pass to Tight End Dustin Keller was a beautifully executed play.  Sanchez was on the run and made a nice touch pass to hit a wide open Keller.  Keller did the rest – turning upfield and carefully dancing his way down the sideline into the endzone.  Though the Bengals fought back to get within 7 points, you never really felt like they were going to win the game.  They simply didn’t have enough weapons on offense and their defense just couldn’t stop Shonn Greene.  Some quick notes:

  • THE JETS’ RUNNING GAME –  Been great all season (they lead the league in rushing offense) but took another step forward on Saturday.  Shonn Greene was a BEAST.  Dunno if they beat San Diego this week but they’re set up well for next year.
  • JAY FEELY –  Did the kicking AND the punting for the Jets because usual punter Steve Weatherford was deactivated right before the game with an irregular heartbeat.  While Feely certainly shouldn’t consider a position change, he didn’t have a single punt blocked, downed a couple inside the 20, and gave his coverage teams a chance on every punt.  Nice job, Jay.
  • I SAID IT BEFORE BUT I’LL SAY IT AGAIN: DARRELLE REVIS IS A STUD –  Best cornerback in football, period.  Unbelievable how good he’s been this year.  He’s seen all the top wideouts (Andre Johnson, Moss, TO, Ocho, White, Wayne, Steve Smith [the Panther]) and he’s shut them all down.  Just amazing to watch this guy.
  • THE BENGALS REALLY MISS CHRIS HENRY – Prior to his passing, the arm injury that ended his season also had a devastating effect on the offense.  The Bengals simply don’t have another guy to stretch the field and take some pressure off Ochocinco and that fact was hugely exploited by the Jets on Saturday.
  • SHAYNE GRAHAM MIGHT BE OUT OF WORK – The Bengals kicker missed not one, but TWO field goals inside 40 yards.  That’s inexcusable come playoff time.
  • REPLAY MADNESS – The Bengals burned BOTH their challenges in the 1st quarter.  I don’t think this really hurt them in the long run but someone needs to remind Marvin Lewis you NEVER use both challenges that early in a game unless you’re absolutetly certain you’ll win one.  Could’ve been a huge gaffe.    

UP NEXT: THE SAN DIEGO CHARGERS.  Should be a very interesting game because the Jets are susceptible to a good running game yet San Diego doesn’t run the ball all that well.  The Jets are very good against the pass and San Diego has one of the better passing offenses in the league.  Definitely a strength versus strength matchup.  While Revis will probably shadow Vincent Jackson all day, Philip Rivers still has Antonio Gates to run his offense through.  Look for Malcolm Floyd to have a big day as well given his height advantage over whomever will be covering him.  The Jets, though, have a shot in this one.  if they continue to do what they did against the Bengals.  Run the football effectively, control the clock (and therefore keep Rivers and the Chargers’ offense off the field), and keep the turnovers to a minimum and they have a real chance to upset the Chargers.  If the Jets fall behind early and this game turns into a shootout (with a rookie QB on the road against a pretty good San Diego pass defense) they’re in real trouble.


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