EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Rex and The Sanchise are headed to the playoffs, lucky breaks and all.
Same Old J-E-T-S? Nope, not this time.
Rex Ryan’s top-ranked defense shut down the Cincinnati Bengals and rookie Mark Sanchez efficiently led a clock-eating offense as the Jets clinched their first playoff berth in three seasons with a 37-0 victory at the frigid Meadowlands on Sunday night.
Needing a win to keep their season going, and playing in front of their frosted fans braving Arctic conditions, the Jets (9-7) set up a rematch against the Bengals (10-6) in the first round of the playoffs next Saturday at Cincinnati.
“We planned on being here, regardless of who believed in us or didn’t,” Ryan said. “We’re built for this time of year and this is our time.”
Ryan and his players came back onto the field after a few minutes in the locker room, celebrating with a victory lap and high-fiving the few thousand remaining fans.
The win capped a series of favorable twists and turns for the Jets. New York appeared to be on the outside of the playoff hunt two weeks ago after a loss to Atlanta.
Instead, the Jets defeated previously undefeated Indianapolis last Sunday when Peyton Manning and other Colts stars went to the bench in the second half. Several other teams in playoff contention lost, setting up the Jets’ win-and-in game against the Bengals.
Sanchez was 8 for 16 for 63 yards with no turnovers before being replaced by Kellen Clemens late in the fourth quarter with the game in hand. Thomas Jones ran for 78 yards and two touchdowns and do-it-all wide receiver Brad Smith had 92 yards rushing, including a 32-yard TD run, as the Jets set a record for yards rushing in a season.
“This was big for Coach Ryan and the organization to kind of eliminate that stigma,” Sanchez said. “But it takes years to do that, consistent winning.”
The Bengals opened with most of their starters but pulled Carson Palmer early in the third quarter. Palmer was ineffective when he was in, going 1 for 11 for no – yes, zero – yards before J.T. O’Sullivan replaced him.
Jets 37, Bengals 0
NYJ—Jones 1 run (Feely kick)
NYJ—FG Feely 20
NYJ—B.Smith 32 run (Feely kick)
NYJ—Cotchery 6 run (Feely kick)
NYJ—FG Feely 39
NYJ—FG Feely 40
NYJ—Jones 2 run (Feely kick)
|Total Net Yards||72||320|
|Time of Possession||18:46||41:14|
RUSHING—Cincinnati, L.Johnson 9-38, Scott 6-20, Leonard 1-8, J.Johnson 1-3, O’Sullivan 1-3. N.Y. Jets, B.Smith 4-92, Jones 27-78, Greene 13-62, Woodhead 6-20, Cotchery 1-6, Sanchez 2-2, Richardson 1-0, Clemens 3-(minus 3).
PASSING—Cincinnati, O’Sullivan 3-8-0-31, C.Palmer 1-11-1-0. N.Y. Jets, Sanchez 8-16-0-63.
RECEIVING—Cincinnati, Coles 3-19, Coats 1-12. N.Y. Jets, Cotchery 5-39, Edwards 2-15, Keller 1-9.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.
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