E. RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Bengals defense got no help from its offense and special teams Sunday in Cincinnati's matchup with Hall of Famer Brett Favre as the Jets took a 26-14 win here at The Meadowlands.
Twice in the second half the Bengals intercepted Favre inside the Cincinnati 10 by safeties Marvin White and rookie Corey Lynch and twice the offense led by backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn't move and gave up field position.
The Bengals played without the services of starting quarterback Carson Palmer, who sat out for the second time in the last three games with an injured elbow. He's not concerned that the injury is season-ending.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked five times by the Jets defense. (AP photo)
"I'm not shutting anything down. If they tell me to sit, I'll sit but as soon as I get cleared to play, whether we're 9-6 or 0-15, I'm going to play."
Palmer also said he was going to stay overnight in New York to see New York Mets team physician David Altchek, an elbow specialist that deals with many baseball pitchers, Monday morning. He indicated he still expects to play next Sunday when the Bengals host Pittsburgh.
"It was my decision (to see the elbow specialist)," Palmer said. "I wanted to get a second opinion, have somebody look at it other than just our doctors. Hopefully they'll have a different opinion and say it's a lot better and I'll be able to play this week."
The Bengals finished with just 171 yards of total offense and only 43 of them came on the ground. The defense held the Jets to just 252 yards and only 86 on the ground, but the Bengals dug too big of a hole in field position and the offense took them out it by going 4-for-13 on third-down conversions.
The 171 total yards are the third lowest and the 43 rushing yards the third lowest under Lewis. By winning the turnover battle 3-1, the Bengals also lost for just the fifth time in 34 games under Lewis when they have a positive turnover differential.
Fitzpatrick hit 20 of his 33 passes for 152 yards, but he was also sacked five times.
"Every time we were third and long, they just dropped a lot of people," Fitzpatrick said. "There were a lot of guys running around out there and it put us in tough situations. It was our inability on first and second down to complete passes and gain yardage."
The Jets were beneficiaries of great field position for most of the game. The average drive start for the Jets was their own 46-yard line and New York started five drives in Bengals territory. Their longest scoring drive was 57 yards, and all five scoring drives started on Cincinnati's side of the field.
The game was summed up with a sequence early in the third quarter that began with White's first NFL interception as he took advantage of Favre throwing across the field and made a leaping grab inside the Bengals 5.
But the offense, paralyzed with Carson Palmer in street clothes while managing just 118 yards in the first three quarters, went nowhere, Kyle Larson punted out of his end zone 39 yards and the Jets' Leon Washington returned it 22 yards to the Bengals 24. So when Frostee Rucker sacked Favre to end a drive that got no yards, New York could settle for Jay Feely's 43-yard field goal that gave the Jets a 20-14 lead with 5:43 left in the third quarter.
Fitzpatrick regrouped a bedraggled Bengals offense with a heady one-yard touchdown run that had cut the Jets lead to 17-14 with eight seconds left in the first half.
Before Fitzpatrick embarked on the 14-play, 66-yard drive, the Bengals didn't have a first down and their wide receivers had just one catch. But they spread it out for 4:05 and wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco got their first first down (and his first catch of the day) on a 16-yard pass over the middle with 3:55 left in the half. Ocho Cinco had two more catches in the drive to finish the half with 31 yards to a bevy of boos every time he touched it and fellow Pro Bowl wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh added a 13-yarder on a quick slant as well as a diving fourth-down catch heading to the sideline that converted a first down on Fitzpatrick's rollout pass.
Fitzpatrick broke an 0-for-5 drought on third down with a third-and-1 sneak and when running back Chris Perry got blown up on a run from the 1 and the clock winding down, Fitzpatrick signaled for a spike to stop the clock but instead took the snap and hunched behind right guard Bobbie Williams for the score.
Fitzpatrick actually had more passing yards than Jets quarterback Brett Favre at the half, but Favre's 75 yards included a touchdown pass and he only missed on three of his 16 attempts.
Bengals fall behind in second period
The Bengals lost the clock, field position, and the ball as they fell behind the Jets, 17-7, early in the second quarter on running back Thomas Jones' seven-yard run with 7:57 left in the half.
The Jets had the ball for more than 16 minutes and the Bengals, without a first down and just 13 yards of offense, had it for less than six minutes as New York built the lead aided by Fitzpatrick's fumble at his own 24 when he chose to heave a third-down pass instead of run for the first down.
Blitzing DB Hank Poteat forced him out of the pocket and to the edge when Fitzpatrick pulled up to throw it downfield, and Poteat stripped the ball from behind and linebacker Calvin Pace fell on the fumble.
"They're a defense that two-gaps," Bengals guard Andrew Whitworth said. "Their whole thing is to just play a flat line. You can't just block people. You have to move them, and we didn't get much movement."
It took the Jets less than a minute and a half to score as the New York offensive line caved the Bengals middle on Jones' run.
When Feely kicked a 38-yard field goal with 10:56 left in the first half, the Bengals had the ball for two three-and-outs and had it just 4:07 compared to the Jets' 14:57.
But the Bengals did well to hold them to the field goal since the Jets started the drive at their own 34. Cornerback David Jones had Lavaranues Coles covered in the end zone when Coles couldn't hold on to it as he fell to the ground on a third-down pass.
Bengals strike first
The Bengals turned to their defense to take a 7-0 lead on the third snap of the game when right end Antwan Odom roared in to sack Favre and safety Chinedum Ndukwe picked up his fumble for a 15-yard touchdown run 1:24 into the game.
Favre, the venerable 18-year veteran, responded the only way he can. He threw three touchdown passes on the next drive, but the only one that counted was his two-yard flip to the wide open Jones that made it 7-7 with 7:44 left in the first quarter.
After Leon Washington's 46-yard kick return, Favre had two consecutive third-down touchdown passes from inside the 20 called back with a vintage scramble and throw negated by an ineligible man downfield and a crossing pattern wiped out by a pick called on wide receiver Charles Stuckey.
But Bengals cornerback Leon Hall got called for illegal contact on the next third down working on Coles and Favre had his life.
On that second Jets series third-round pick Pat Sims made his NFL debut and he went on to have an active day with five tackles and a quarterback hit.
The Bengals offense took only three snaps in the first quarter and it was a shaky first series. Perry got two yards on first down, Fitzpatrick couldn't find a receiver on second down and got sacked scrambling for no gain and center Eric Ghiaciuc got called for holding on third down.
The Bengals suffered a brutal play after a nice defensive stand forced a punt when wide receiver Antonio Chatman fair-caught a punt on his own 4. Perry unwisely tried to take a quick-hitter outside and lost a yard and the pressured Fitzpatrick overthrew him on a third-down screen pass.
That allowed Favre to set up shop at the Bengals 34 following Larson's punt out of the end zone and get the field goal.
The Bengals tried Cedric Benson on their third and fourth series of the game, but they could get less than nothing on offense. Ghiaciuc added a false start in the mess.
The running game was brutal all game. Perry had just 14 yards on 11 carries, and dropped a key third-down pass in the fourth quarter that would have give the Bengals a first down, Benson had six yards on four carries and Fitzpatrick was the leading rusher with 23.
Asked after the game if there might be an upcoming change at running back, Lewis said "we're going to take look at it."
PREGAME NOTES: The Bengals were without their Pro Bowl kicker Sunday.
Shayne Graham, nursing a sore groin, appeared not to kick during his usual pregame routine and then left the field about two hours before Sunday's kickoff against the Jets at the Meadowlands before being made inactive.
That means four-year veteran Dave Rayner is not only going to kick off, but also kick field goals after signing with the Bengals on Saturday following Friday's emergency workout.
With Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer (elbow) also down and not dressed Sunday, it marks the first game Graham has missed since he joined the Bengals in 2003 in a stretch of 85 games in which he has become Cincinnati's most accurate kicker at 142-for-162 for 87.6 percent.
Rayner, who has kicked in 41 NFL games and made 71 percent of his 58 field-goal tries, has 15 touchbacks on 41 career kickoffs.
The Jets kicker, Mike Nugent, is also inactive.
Also inactive is defensive tackle John Thornton (Achilles) and getting his first NFL start in his spot is Orien Harris. The Bengals also activated rookie defensve tackle Pat Sims for the first time in his career. Like Graham and Carson Palmer, Thornton has been a guy that rarely sits out. It's only the fourth game he's missed since coming to the Bengals in 2003.
Even though safety Dexter Jackson (thumb) returned to a limited week of practice, he was inactive. So was linebacker Corey Mays and rookie wide receivers Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell, and rookie defensive tackle Jason Shirley. Jordan Palmer is the No. 2 quarterback behind Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Rayner hasn't exactly been a long-range dialer on field goals during stints with San Diego, Green Bay, Kansas City and Indianapolis. He's 13-for-19 from both 30-39 yards and 40-49 yards and 1-for-5 from 50 and beyond. He's missed only one of 15 field-goal tries from inside the 30 and missed one of 46 extra-point tries.
The blocks could be a problem. Three of his attempts have been blocked and he's had virtually no time with long-snapper Brad St. Louis and holder Kyle Larson.
The kicking game is full of newcomers. The Jets' Reggie Hodges is punting for the first time in three years in a regular-season game, but Bengals returner Antonio Chatman said last week that the team watched tape of him from the preseason.
"He doesn't get it down the field," said Chatman, who is 13th in the NFL with an average of 10.1 yards per his 10 returns. "He goes for hang time. I'll be hoping for a mis-hit, or if he drives one."
On a sunny 67-degree day, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis chose to introduce the defense as a unit. The Bengals emerged in all-white, an ensemble in which they are 5-8 since opening the 2004 season in new uniforms against the Jets.
With linebacker Brandon Johnson serving as special teams captain, the Jets won the toss and elected to receive in their Throwback uniforms of the New York Titans.