The Jets lost defensive tackle Damon Harrison as a free agent this offseason, but his replacement has kept things looking strong in the middle of the defensive line.
They signed Steve McLendon away from the Steelers and McLendon has two of the team’s five first-half sacks in their season opener against the Bengals. Leonard Williams has one of his own and shared another with Muhammad Wilkerson as the Sheldon Richardson-less line has led the way to a 16-13 halftime lead.
The protection breakdowns have hurt the Bengals because they’ve found success when Andy Dalton is upright long enough to hit his receivers. He hit C.J. Uzomah for 54 yards to set up a field goal and hit A.J. Green for 54 more on a touchdown in the second quarter. Green ran past Darrelle Revis on the play, although it appeared Revis was expecting safety help from Marcus Gilchrist as the Jets have used both players to shadow Green for much of the afternoon.
Dalton is 14-of-19 for 213 yards and threw an interception. The Bengals have just 22 yards on six carries as they’ve opted for the aerial attack in Ken Zampese’s first game as Hue Jackson’s successor as offensive coordinator.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is 12-of-21 for 111 yards with two touchdowns and Matt Forte has 87 yards from scrimmage in his Jets debut. Kicker Nick Folk had a field goal blocked and missed an extra point to keep things closer than they could have been for the Bengals.