Jets defense falls flat in lopsided 27–12 loss to Cincinnati Bengals

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Bengals Jets Football
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) gestures after making a catch as New York Jets linebacker Quincy Williams (56) and C.J. Mosley, right, get up during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

The Jets defense came into their Week 3 matchup with the Bengals smelling blood, looking to feast on a weak Cincinnati offensive line — but they left much to be desired, as they gave up 27 points in the loss, while putting up a sloppy performance over four quarters.

Gang Green’s defensive squad wasn’t terrific in their first two games, but there were signs for optimism.

In Week 1, they held the Ravens to just 63 rushing yards (the least-amount of any Lamar Jackson-led NFL team) and kept up the pressure in the passing game. 

The following week against the Browns, when the Jets recorded their first victory of the season, they held their own against the explosive Cleveland offense, and made several key plays down the stretch to help secure victory. 

Sack hopes dashed

In particular, the defensive line was showing some promise — as Quinnen Williams, Carl Lawson and CJ Mosley held their own as a competent pass rush and run defense. 

That made Sunday’s matchup with Cincinnati an interesting test, as the Bengals offensive line has been among the worst in the NFL over the last year and two weeks. Quarterback Joe Burrow had been sacked 51 times during the 2021 season, and entered the game having been sacked 13 times through two games (both of which stats were significantly more than any other quarterback in the NFL).

Yet, on Sunday, the Jets only brought Burrow to the ground twice. He tossed three touchdowns, and did not record an interception. 

The only Jets takeaway came when Cincinnati wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase caught a pass, before dropping the football unforced for a fumble.

Mistakes, mistakes and more mistakes

Perhaps the worst defensive play from Gang Green came when Burrow found Tyler Boyd on a short pass, but Jordan Whitehead missed an easy tackle — letting Boyd slip through his hands, and run for a 56-yard touchdown as time expired in the first quarter. That put the Bengals up 14–6. 

Earlier that same drive, the Jets forced a 4th down with nine yards to go, which would have forced the Bengals to punt away and end the untimely-lethal drive, but an unnecessary roughness call on defensive end John Franklin-Myers away from the play caused a 15-yard penalty, and extended Cincinnati’s chances.  

That would be just one of many sloppy penalties that would cost the Jets bigtime on Sunday. 

The next drive, Burrow found Tee Higgins for a 45-yard pass, as the wide receiver completely burned rookie Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner. Adding insult to injury, Lamarcus Joyner was called for a late helmet-to-helmet hit on the receiver, even though he was already going towards the turf, which tacked on another 15 yards on the play. That put the Bengals solidly in field goal position, and ultimately gave them 3 points on the scoreboard. 

All told, the Jets lost 55 crucial yards on penalties. 

The defense became so disorganized that tensions boiled over between their defensive coaches and players — leading to a heated screaming match between Quinnen Williams and the Jets coaches on the sidelines.

A big loss

In addition to losing the game, Quincy Williams was also carted off the field with an apparent ankle injury in the second half, after making a solid tackle to stop a first down pass to Chris Evans. 

Should Williams miss time, the Jets will need significant help replacing his production at linebacker, as he is among the best players that Gang Green has on that side of the ball. 

The Jets immediately declared him doubtful to return to the game. 

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