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Second Half Open Thread: #4 Cincinnati Bengals 7 - #5 New York Jets 14

It was a promising start for the Bengals in this 2010 edition of the NFL Playoffs in Cincinnati. Reprising their role as the #4 seed in the AFC. Rookie Bernard Scott broke a huge return to start the game before Laveranues Coles fumbled the football away at the 20 yardline or so. The Bengals defense quickly shut down the Jets' running game, Brad Smith false started a down away, and the Jets proceded to punt it away with Jay Feely as their punter appeared to be injured or late to the game. After Lito Murray scooped up the punt and returned it into Jets' territory, the Bengals managed to score on the strength of Cedric Benson's runs and Carson Palmer's touchdown strike to Coles on an out route on 3rd and 6 from the 10.

The Bengals D continued to play good football against the run and Brandon Johnson made a nice play that forced Dustin Keller to drop an on-target pass from Mark Sanchez preceding another Feely punt. After a brilliant first-down effort from Cedric Benson that turned a loss into a 6-yard gain, the Bengals saw a 1-yard pass to Brian Leonard, Andre Caldwell dropped a pass over  the middle that forced the Bengals to punt. Just before the wild first quarter of Wildcard Weekend expired. Marvin Lewis used his last challenge of the game and second timeout of the first quarter.

The offense was stagnant for the next few drives after Jay Feely's amazing punting skills pinned them deep in their own territory twice in a row. Shone Green broke a big run down the left side of the field as Leon Hall got held then pushed in the back and taken out of the play. 2 false start penalties killed the next drive before Carson forced a throw short to Chad Ochocinco that Darrelle Revis easily intercepted, leading to an interesting play-action boot that saw Dustin Keller wide open, pushed out short of the pylon perhaps (probably not), but the Bengals were already out of challenges. The Bengals had 6 minute to answer.

The "answer" was a personal foul on the kickoff, then a 16 yard loss on a sack and fumble before the Bengals punted away, again failing to produce on offense (primarily due to lack of a passing game), with a questionable no-call as Huber went down after the ball was away. The rest of the first half was uneventful, but instead of taking a knee to get to the lockerroom without injury, Andre Caldwell was injured while blocking for a garbage time Cedric Benson run and limped to the locker room as boos rained down from the crowd as the clock ticked to halftime with the Jets scoring the last 14 points of the half.

The breakdown is fairly simple. The Jets have 2 big plays and have otherwise been shut down, which gives cause to be optimistic. Take away Greene's big run and he was averaging 3.1 yards a carry on everything else. Thomas Jones averaged a measly 1.3 per run. Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez played perhaps his best half of football in the NFL, going 7/10 for 94 yards and a TD, good for a 132.9 rating. Cedric Benson looked great in the first half, going for 73 yards on 13 carries, but Carson Palmer couldn't provide a compliment. In the passing game, we've seen a fumble from a receiver, a badly underthrown interception, and a wide receiver fumble a pass that came in a few feet too high.  On the bright side, the Bengals are winning time of possession this week. Fix the turnovers and make Mark Sanchez keep throwing it, and this game is salvageable. The Jets' sustainability is questionable given the Jets' inability to gain runs consistently. Defensively, the secondary has to recognize misdirection. That's the difference (besides the bad penalties, no-call on Greene's TD, and Carson's poor play) in the game right now.