Jets fail to contain Bengals’ playmakers, lose 27-12 in Week 3 matchup

New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco (19) is sacked by Cincinnati Bengals’ Cam Sample (96) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger) (Adam Hunger/AP)

On Sunday, the Jets were looking for their first two-game winning streak since 2020.

But, on a rainy, cloudy day at MetLife Stadium, Gang Green left their fans feeling gloomy.

Bengals (1-2) defeated the Jets (1-2) 27-12 to get their first victory of 2022.

The Jets came into the matchup with the Bengals as the No. 8 offense in the NFL, but they looked far from it.

Joe Flacco, who started his third consecutive game for the injured Zach Wilson (knee), along with the Jets offense struggled most of the afternoon. He completed 28 of 52 passes for 285 yards and two interceptions.

“I thought we had a couple of opportunities early,” Flacco said. “They came out and tried to play man [coverage] against us and we threw it a couple of times.

“We hit Garrett a few times down the field, we hit Breece, we just had to settle for field goals early in the game. It was the second quarter when things started to stall a little bit.

“It was a two-score game. Obviously, things weren’t going great for us, but it was a two-score game, but we just didn’t capitalize.”

Flacco was also sacked four times, three times by defensive end Trey Hendrickson.

A week after his standout performance in the victory against the Browns, Garrett Wilson finished with six catches for 60 yards.

Greg Zuerlein was one of the few bright spots as he made all four field goal attempts.

“You have all those third-down opportunities and those are the ones you have to find a way to convert,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “Just keep drives alive, credit to those guys, they did a great job of getting off the field and we just couldn’t convert third downs in crunch time.

“In the first half, those guys were able to convert on third down and get points.”

The Jets entered this week’s game knowing that Cincinnati’s offensive line was one of its biggest weaknesses. The Bengals allowed 13 sacks in their first two games. However, Gang Green could not capitalize on that as they recorded only two sacks.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow took advantage of the lack of a pass rush. He was 23-for-36 as Burrow threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns.

Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd caught four passes for 105 yards and a touchdown catch. Tee Higgins finished with five catches for 93 yards. Ja’Marr Chase recorded six catches for 29 yards and a touchdown.

“We allowed him to get out of the pocket,” Saleh said. “We were surrounding him and he just finds a way to slip out a few times in that first half to create off-schedule plays for himself and his team.

“Good job by him to stay alive, but those are the ones that we have to finish. It could have been a very disruptive day for the defense.”

The Bengals won the pregame coin toss and elected to receive instead of deferring into the second half. The gamble paid off as Cincinnati went on an 11-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a Semaje Perine 12-yard touchdown catch that gave the team a 7-0 lead.

Gang Green responded by driving down the field and getting to the Bengals’ 32-yard-line. But after a Breece Hall drop on 3rd and nine, the Jets settled for a Zuerlein 50-yard field goal that cut the Jets deficit to 7-3.

The Jets caught a break on the Bengals’ second possession of the game as Chase fumbled and C.J. Mosley recovered on Cincinnati’s 43-yard-line. But it didn’t result in a touchdown as Zuerlein’s 40-yard field goal cut the Bengals lead to 7-6.

Gang Green’s third series against the Bengals was full of mistakes. First, a John Franklin-Myers unnecessary roughness call on third down gave Cincinnati a new set of downs. Then Jordan Whitehead’s missed tackle allowed Boyd to go for a 56-yard touchdown that extended the Bengals lead to 14-6.

After the touchdown, Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and defensive line coach Aaron Whitecotton got into a heated exchange.

Whitecotton was talking to Williams on the sideline and Williams got off the bench and yelled at Whitecotton as the players quickly separated the two.

Williams said the disagreement stemmed from the Jets bringing blitzes, which led to the Bengals 56-yard touchdown by Boyd.

“In the game, you just get heated,” Williams said. “It wasn’t a shouting match like everyone was making it seem like.

“I love my coach and my coach loves me and we are all competitors out there. We got dogs in our room and everybody on the staff knows, everyone in the organization knows and I just trust my D-line so much.

“Put it on our back to win this game. That came out of me to just challenge our D-line coach to put it on our back.”

The Jets’ defense continued to have problems slowing down Burrow and the Bengals’ offense as, in the second quarter, he completed a 47-yard pass to Tee Higgins. But Cincinnati managed to get three points out of it as Evan McPherson’s 22-yard field goal extended its lead to 17-6.

Midway in the second quarter, Flacco’s pass to Braxton Berrios was intercepted by linebacker Logan Wilson. A McPherson field goal increased Cincinnati’s lead to 20-6. Zuerlein’s 52-yard field goal before halftime made the score 20-9.

The Jets got the ball after halftime but turned the ball over after Hendrickson strip-sacked Flacco on their 24-yard line. That quickly led to a Chase five-yard touchdown catch, increasing the Bengals’ lead to 27-9.

Gang Green’s offense wasn’t much better in the second half as Flacco struggled with accuracy and decision-making. The Jets finished with three points in the second half as they couldn’t replicate the magic they had in last weekend’s 31-30 win against the Cleveland Browns. Fans were chanting for backup quarterback Mike White to enter the game, but Saleh said he never considered benching Flacco.

“Penalties on third down, mental errors, we are not even giving a team a chance to beat us, we are beating ourselves,” Jets cornerback D.J. Reed said.

“Until we play complementary football and is far as the defense not making mental errors and play to our standards…teams are too good to be doing that.”

The Jets will return to the field next Sunday as they will play the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium. Cincinnati will have a short week as it will host the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football.

Injury Update

Left tackle George Fant left the game due to a knee injury and did not return. He was replaced by Connor McDermott.

Linebacker Quincy Williams was carted off the field after suffering an ankle. Neither Fant nor Williams returned to the game as Saleh said they would be evaluated on Monday.

So will Zach Wilson, who has been out since the preseason after a meniscus trim and a bone bruise in the preseason sidelined him. If cleared, Wilson could start in Week 4 as the Jets travel to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers at Acrisure Stadium.

Cincinnati will have a short week as it will host the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football.