The Bengals gave up some sort of field position with a failed onside kick or completely shanked kickoff to start the 2nd half, but it only led to Jay Feely 42 and 52-yard field goal attempts negated by penalties. The Jets opted to punt rather than attempt a 57-yarder, and Feely dropped another one inside the 20... but, importantly, the Jets came away without points. Thus appeared a golden opportunity to turn momentum around and take control of the psychological edge.
And Cedric Benson, predator of souls, decided to do just that behind some great blocking, great second efforts, and Chad Ochocinco pancaking Darrelle Revis. Even old coach Gibbs recognized the momentum shifting (for a few minutes). Unfortunately, a hobbled Andre Caldwell couldn't reel in a first-down pass from Carson Palmer, and Golden boy Graham decided to be terrible and miss a 30-yard field goal. So much for that mo'.
Shonn Greene found a lot of space outside of the tackles, particularly on the left side, and Jerricho Cotchery made another amazing catch on the sideline. Playaction and more handoffs chewed up time and yardage as Mark Sanchez decided he was a decent quarterback, and Thomas Jones finished off the drive with a TD. Things were beginning to look grim in Cincinnati. The defense looked wiped and the offense looked, as it has all year, offensive.
The Jets took possession back minutes into the 4th quarter and resumed pushing the ball up the field on the backs and blocks of their punishing offensive line, but came up short on a 3-and-out and the Bengals got the ball back with plenty of time left to come back.
And they got on the right track with a Cedric Benson 47-yard touchdown run after Chad Ochocinco beat Darrelle Revis for the first time in the game. Were things turning around? The Bengals got the quick strike they needed to get back into the game.
But two huge plays - a Dustin Keller 41 yard reception, and a big Shonn Green first-down run or two put the Jets in position to make a field goal and make it a 2-possession game. Graham's missed field goal looming large, huh? Less than 6:00 left, down 10, the Bengals needed another :50 second score or something of that nature. Alas, time ticked away as Carson Palmer continued to airmail passes and the Bengals best player, Cedric Benson, was taken out of the game because there simply wasn't enough time left. When Shayne Graham missed his second field goal of the game, he punched his ticket out of cincinnati, and Cincinnati's ticket out of the post-season.
The Bengals managed to get the ball back with over 3 minutes to play in the game, but penalties (holding and an illegal shift) killed momentum and sapped the clock before Carson Palmer took his second sack of the game and faced a 4th and 22 to save the season. Carson held onto the ball until he got sacked for the second consecutive play, and the Jets had 3 knees to take to end the football game.
Penalties were truly devestating in this game. The game started out clean for the Bengals, but as penalties kicked in, so did ineptitude on the offensive side of the ball. Big plays were negated. Time was wasted. It was an abysmal performance by Carson Palmer, Ghayne Graham and the secondary. Overpursuit gave up 2 big runs and 3 huge receptions. Mark Sanchez made no mistakes. Carson did.
Heads must roll.