The New York Jets scored the game’s final 22 points to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals 25-17 in preseason action Saturday night in Cincinnati.
The Jets’ second preseason game of the summer highlighted several storylines pertinent to the forthcoming regular season, starting with the hurting and ever-evolving defensive secondary.
Since New York’s first preseason game nine days ago, the Jets lost three cornerbacks to injury: Dee Milliner (high ankle sprain, out for 3-4 weeks), Dimitri Patterson (calf and ankle, day-to-day) and third-round draft pick Dexter McDougle (torn ACL, out for season). Safety Antonio Allen made his first career start at cornerback out of necessity, taking the tall order of covering star Bengals receiver A.J. Green.
Andy Dalton took advantage much in the same way Indianapolis’s Andrew Luck did last week. Dalton quarterbacked the Bengals’ first three drives, leading them to scores on all three. He achieved a perfect passer rating of 158.3 by going 8-for-8, throwing for 144 yards and a touchdown against New York’s vulnerable secondary. Green easily worked Allen and caught all three passes thrown his way for a total of 69 yards.
On the offensive side, Geno Smith and the first-team offense played the entire first half. He made his first big mistake of the preseason on the third drive: an interception on an intended pass to David Nelson that looked like it was thrown too early for Nelson to turn and grab. Cincinnati converted that turnover into the field goal that put them up 17-3.
After that, Smith was efficient, leading the Jets to two touchdown drives in the second quarter. He carried in one of those touchdowns himself, a one-yard jog. Smith finished an impressive 10-for-13, with 98 yards and the interception; he also ran four times for 20 yards and the touchdown.
Chris Ivory, Eric Decker and Jeff Cumberland were all precautionary scratches for the Jets as they continue to rehab minor injuries. Chris Johnson and Bilal Powell performed great in Ivory’s absence. The running back duo combined for 104 yards on just 13 carries, an eight-yard average.
Powell, in particular, impressed me. The fourth-year running back out of Louisville did everything asked of him in all three facets of his position – running, catching and blocking. On a certain play in the second quarter, he effortlessly picked up a blitzing Bengal to allow Smith to scramble for a first and goal. Powell ran for the touchdown on the next play, and ripped off a 32-yard run down the middle on the following drive. And he caught both passes thrown to him, including one for 12 yards.
Michael Vick finished the night with 70 yards and the go-ahead touchdown toss to Clyde Gates on 5-for-9 passing, as well as two runs for 16 yards. For the second week in a row, Vick did not blow anyone away, but managed the game well and made no glaring errors or turnovers. (To his credit, Gates’ 17-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter was all YAC – a full 17 yards sprinting between tacklers down the sideline after he made the catch.)
The Jets move to 2-0 in the preseason with the victory. Next, they take on the New York Giants Friday, August 22 at 7:30 p.m. for their annual MetLife Stadium rivalry game. Friday’s game will be broadcast on CBS; the Jets are the designated home team for this year’s edition. Check back here next week for more analysis of this game, and a first look at the coming roster cuts.