A week after the Bengals handed Lamar Jackson a blowout loss, the Bengals got picked apart by a backup quarterback for one of the worst teams in the league.
The number two overall draft pick Zach Wilson was injured in last weeks’ game against the Patriots, so Mike White got the start for Gang Green. This was White’s first NFL start and only his second appearance in an NFL game, though he looked like a vested veteran. White completed 37 of 44 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns. He might have led the Jets to victory if not for his two interceptions.
White led the Jets to the best offensive game against the Bengals’ improved defense this year. The Bengals hadn’t given up more than 25 points in a game this season, and they gave up 34 to the Jets. It was the first time the Jets had scored more than 30 points since 2019.
The Jets scored on their opening drive for the first time all season. On White’s first career drive as a starter, the Jets dialed up some safe and easy throws. White completed all seven of his passes for 65 yards, but it was Michael Carter that got in the end zone on a toss to the left side. After Matt Ammendola’s extra point, the Jets had a 7-0 lead after their long and methodical drive with 8:38 to go in the first quarter.
White completed 12 of his first 14 passes in this game, with his only two incompletions ending up being tipped interceptions. On the second interception, the Bengals got the ball on the Jets’ 15-yard line. On the first play of the second quarter, Joe Mixon plowed the ball across the goal line. Despite the shaky start, the Bengals had tied the game, 7-7, thanks to the extra point from Evan McPherson with 14:57 remaining until halftime.
The Bengals offense finally got into a rhythm, and got the ball down to the goal line thanks to a diving 26-yard catch from Tee Higgins. Burrow hit Ja’Marr Chase from the two-yard line, and after the extra point, the Bengals had a 14-7 lead with 3:21 left in the second quarter.
Vonn Bell forced and recovered a fumble, which led to Tyler Boyd nearly throwing a touchdown pass. On a trick play, Burrow threw back to Boyd, who passed to Mixon, which resulted in Mixon going 46 yards and going down at the ten-yard line. Burrow couldn’t get into the end zone, so the Bengals settled for a 21-yard field goal from McPherson to give the Bengals a 17-7 lead with 1:51 left in the half.
Getting tricky on this Halloween pic.twitter.com/TVU48TNPMU— PFF CIN Bengals (@PFF_Bengals) October 31, 2021
The Jets had less than two minutes to work with, and they were able to get down to the goal line. After one phenomenal catch was reviewed and ruled to be incomplete outside the end zone, White found Braxton Berrios on an equally dubious reception. The Berrios catch stood, and after the extra point, the Jets stole a quick touchdown from the Bengals for a 17-14 halftime score.
Through 30 minutes, the Jets looked like more of a competent football team than they have all season. White completed 23 of 29 passes in the first half, and led several long drives. If it wasn’t for three turnovers in the first half, the Jets would have been leading going into the locker room.
The Bengals punted on their first possession of the second half, so the Fighting Mike Whites got the chance to take the lead. A late hit from Cam Sample sent White to the medical tent, so Josh Johnson came in at quarterback for the Jets. Johnson completed two of four passes for 17 yards on the drive that led to a field goal from 24 yards out. The kick was good and the score was tied at 17-17 with 5:17 left in the third quarter.
The Bengals wanted to get their offense going, so Burrow lobbed it deep to Higgins. Once again, Burrow hit Higgins for a shot that got the Bengals in striking distance. The 54-yard deep ball got the Bengals to the eight, which set up a short pass to Mixon, who ran into the end zone. The extra point was good, and after only four plays that took 2:06, the Bengals had the lead with 3:11 remaining in the quarter.
White came back in the game, and started moving the ball the way he had before. Before long, the Jets were knocking on the doorstep of the end zone early in the fourth quarter. Trey Hendrickson got in the backfield and took down White, forcing the Jets to settle for three. Ammendola’s kick was good, and the Bengals still led 24-20 with 12:28 remaining in the fourth quarter.
C.J. Uzomah had a quiet day for most of the game, but on the next drive got three catches for 27 yards to get the Bengals near the goal line. Burrow found Boyd for a 10-yard touchdown, converting his third third-down of the drive. The extra point was good for an 11-point lead, as the Bengals led the Jets 31-20 with 7:29 left in the game.
The Jets weren’t done, and White led another methodical drive down the field. The majority of White’s passes were below ten yards, but he did find his running back Ty Johnson in space, and Johnson toed the sideline to get a touchdown. The Jets failed on their two-point attempt with 4:36 remaining, so they trailed 31-26.
On the first play of the next drive, Burrow threw a pass right into Shaq Lawson’s arms, which resulted in an interception that put the Jets at the Bengals’ 14-yard line. From there, White found Tyler Kroft in the end zone for a quick touchdown, and the lead. This time, the Jets got the two-point conversion to take a 34-31 lead with 3:45 to go.
The Bengals needed to make one more defensive stop, but a questionable helmet-to-helmet penalty on Mike Hilton gave the Jets a free third-and-11 conversion. That penalty demoralized the Bengals, who had the Jets dead to rights and were set to get the ball back. The Jets continued to run down the clock and seal the 34-31 victory.
The Jets improved to 2-5 after knocking off the first-place Bengals.
The Bengals, now 5-3, will face the Browns next week in a divisional matchup.