The Jets were the opponent when the Dolphins got their first win of the season after seven straight losses and they remained the opponent a losing team wants to see in Cincinnati on Sunday.
After 11 losses in 11 ties, the Bengals finally found their way to a win over a Jets team that seemed to have taken their season in a better direction with three straight wins. That progress crashed to a halt in a 22-6 loss that drops them to 4-8 on the season.
Andy Dalton became the franchise’s all-time touchdown pass leader in the first quarter and moved the team well during a first half that ended with the Bengals up 17-6. They slowed down in the second half, but the play of their defense and the Jets’ willingness to shoot themselves in the foot made sure that didn’t come back to haunt them.
The Bengals kept the Jets out of the red zone for the entire game, sacked Sam Darnold four times and never really let Le'Veon Bell get going on the ground. There were occasions when the Jets would make big plays, but they were called back by penalties and the Jets finished with 10 fouls for 106 yards.
One was a holding call on left tackle Kelvin Beachum in the end zone that handed the Bengals two points and a short field they used for a field goal in the third quarter. Another was a pass interference call on linebacker Neville Hewitt as he tried to cover wide receiver Tyler Boyd near the end zone. That set up a Joe Mixon touchdown and helped set the stage for the Bengals’ first win since Week 15 of last season.
Dalton ended the day 22-of-37 for 243 yards in his first start since getting benched in favor of rookie Ryan Finley after Week Eight. Beyond any numbers, there was a clear spark to the Bengals that wasn’t in evidence in the last few weeks and defensive end Carlos Dunlap provided further jolts with three sacks.
Darnold wasn’t hurt on any of those sacks, but did seem to twist his ankle late in the fourth quarter. He remained in for the team’s final offensive play, but they’ll surely take a closer look before next week’s visit from the Dolphins.
The Bengals, meanwhile, will go to Cleveland for the first of two meetings with the Browns in the final four weeks of the season.