EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Thomas Jones found the end zone on three separate occasions to lead the Jets to a 26-14 win at home versus the still-winless Cincinnati Bengals. On an unseasonably warm day at the Meadowlands, quarterback Brett Favre did not have his best outing (two interceptions, one fumble), but the Jets were still able to up their record to 3-2.
“Turnovers will come back and bite you but you have to be able to overcome the turnover,” said Favre after the game. The Jets were tested on that analogy early on when Atwan Odom sacked Favre on the Jets first drive and stripped the ball, which was picked up by safety Chinedum Ndukwe and returned 15 yards for a touchdown.
On the ensuing kickoff, Leon Washington – who, along with the rest of the special teams, played a big hand in the victory – had a 46-yard return to put the offense into Cincinnati territory. The Jets drove inside the 10 and on third and goal, leading to a series of events that took place in which Favre actually threw three touchdown passes. Two penalties against the Jets nullified what appeared to be scores, and the Bengals (0-6) also committed an illegal contact infraction that gave the Jets an automatic first down. They worked the ball to the one-yard line and Favre found Jones (17 carries, 65 yards) open for his first score on the day.
The Jets, who wore their Titans throwback uniforms for the second consecutive game, took a 10-7 lead with 10:56 left in the second quarter on a 38-yard field goal by Jay Feeley. They were able to pad their lead when Hank Poteat sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick – starting in place of an injured Carson Palmer – and Calvin Pace recovered the loose ball at the Cincinnati 24-yard line.
An 11-yard run by Brad Smith off a double reverse set up a seven-yard scoring run by Jones, who took it right up the gut to give the Jets a 17-7 lead. The Bengals then went on a 14-play, 66-yard drive at the end of the first half, capped off by a one-yard sneak by Fitzpatrick (20 for 33 for 152 yards) with only eight seconds left. The Jets dominated the half, but only held on to the slim, three-point advantage heading into the locker room.
Favre (25 for 33 for189 yards) threw his first interception of the game as the Jets appeared to be headed for a score on their first drive of the second half. Marvin White picked off a pass intended for Bubba Franks at his own three-yard line. “In hindsight, I wish I would have just thrown it away, but I threw it and I thought that Bubba had as good a chance to catch it as anyone,” Favre said. The Bengals then went three-and-out and were not able to convert the turnover into points.
Another Feeley field goal, this time a 43-yarder, with just over five minutes left in the third quarter gave the Jets a 20-14 lead. Favre’s second interception came at the beginning of the final stanza off a tipped ball at the Cincinnati eight-yard line. The defense held once again and the Jets finished their scoring on the day with Thomas’ second rushing touchdown on the afternoon, this time from one-yard out.
Following the game, Eric Mangini defended his quarterback’s mediocre day. “There were some throws that were in tight coverage but you can’t be happy about that one week and then mad about it the other week,” the head coach said. “You never want it to go for a pick. It’s the cost of doing business when you’re going to throw it into tight spaces.”
The spaces were even tighter because the Jets failed to take advantage of numerous opportunities to put the Bengals away earlier, but as Favre said, “I don’t believe in ugly wins.”
When you had only four victories total, as the Jets did in 2007, winning three out of your first five looks good no matter how you earned them.