Written by Scott Cacciola at New York Times.com
The scheduling doyens at N.F.L. headquarters did not do the Jets any early-season favors. Five of their first six opponents this season made the playoffs last season, a maze of danger that began Sunday afternoon when the Cincinnati Bengals visited MetLife Stadium.
It was an eclectic day of football for the Jets, who combined sterling play along their defensive line with blunders in their secondary. They ran and threw the ball effectively for stretches, at least when they were in the middle of the field. But the end zone might as well have been a hayfield, and the Jets had allergies.
They flirted with disaster throughout, and the Bengals were uncharitable guests, holding on for a 23-22 victory as Mike Nugent kicked a 47-yard field goal with 58 seconds left.
“We weren’t very good,” Jets Coach Todd Bowles said, adding, “Too many busts.”
Too many busts against Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who completed 23 of 30 passes for 366 yards. And too many busts against A. J. Green, a 6-foot-4 receiver who looked as if he had suction cups for hands. He had 12 catches for 180 yards, none more important than his 11-yard reception late in the fourth quarter that put Nugent in better position for his field-goal try.
“A. J. Green,” Jets linebacker David Harris said, “is a hell of a receiver.”
Green did much of his damage against Darrelle Revis, once (and perhaps still) regarded as one of the top cornerbacks in the league. But this was not one for the scrapbook.
“It probably wasn’t one of my better games,” Revis said.
Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 19 of 35 passes for 189 yards, and running back Matt Forte, in his first game with the Jets, rushed for 96 yards. He also had five receptions for 59 yards, showing some of the versatility that the Jets coveted when they signed him in the off-season.
“I expect to play well and do things like that,” Forte said. “But when you don’t get the win, it’s all out the window.”
Last season, the Jets won 10 games, but a loss to the Buffalo Bills in their regular-season finale kept them out of the playoffs for a fifth straight year. Still, the Jets expressed cautious optimism throughout training camp. After all, Fitzpatrick had assembled one of the finest statistical seasons by a quarterback in franchise history, and Forte was expected to give the offense a further boost.
And then there was the Jets’ defensive line, as sturdy as advertised against Cincinnati. The Jets finished the game with seven sacks and limited the Bengals to 57 rushing yards.
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