It became clear following Cincinnati's 17-6 win over the New York Jets that Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga was probably the least injured of those that showed up on the infirmary list Friday night. Though officially described as a knee sprain, Maualuga told reporters after the game that "I'll be back in a couple of days." In fact he felt that if this game had any regular or postseason implications, he could have returned but understood the nature of preseason. Why further aggravate an injury and why prevent someone else from having their opportunity to step up (apparently Maualuga hasn't thought about being replaced in the near future).
That being said Maualuga loved the defensive effort that's being ignored from many outside of Cincinnati.
"I think we did a good job and set the tone, and we did what we had to do. We executed each play that was called, then the next guys came in and made a lot of plays. It just shows that when one person gets nicked up, the next person steps up. Everyone did a great job — defensive line, linebackers, safeties. Special teams made a great play. The offense made some good plays. Our defense held their high-tempo offense to, what, 15 yards rushing in the first half?"
If we exclude the yards gained by quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez, the New York Jets gained 34 yards rushing on 11 carries for a 3.1 yard/rush average. And Tebow's 24 yards rushing were the result of his escapability, not designed runs that the front seven defends. Equally impressive by the first-half defense is that both Jets quarterbacks only completed six of 11 passes 37 yards with two quarterback (Maualuga and Manny Lawson) sacks against Sanchez in the first quarter.
The Jets may have struggled offensively, which is generally a reoccurring theme in the preseason for most teams. However we have to agree with Maualuga. The defense did a good job. Especially tackling, notes head coach Marvin Lewis:
Defensively, I thought we did some good things. I thought we tackled — which was key, because coming into the first preseason game, just making sure we do a good job of tackling is big, because in training camp we haven’t had many opportunities to do that. So that was a positive. Overall, my impression, I thought some of the young guys got an opportunity to play more than we expected, and that will be a good chance to evaluate them.
At the end of the day the Bengals defense held the Jets offense to 173 total yards, a 3.3 yard/play average, zero touchdowns, five quarterback sacks and an additional seven hits on the quarterback.