Here are some thoughts on the AFC wild-card game in which the Jets beat the Bengals 24-14 in Cincinnati. We won’t do a post on each and every playoff game, but we have something to say about this one.
*Mark Sanchez had the perfect game for the Jets. He only threw 15 times, which was the amount the Jets needed him to throw to win. He hit two big throws to Dustin Keller on waggles, including the touchdown on which Keller tip-toed down the sideline. And one of Sanchez’ interceptions should have been a touchdown catch by Braylon Edwards. Sanchez got help, especially from Jerricho Cotchery and his Cris Carter-on-the-sidelines impersonation, but he played better than anyone expected the rookie to.
*Carson Palmer, on the other hand, struggled. His receivers kept getting hurt, and Chad Ochocinco couldn’t escape Revis Island. The Bengals needed two or three big plays from Palmer to win the game, and he couldn’t do it. That’s not good for a quarterback paid among the game’s elite.
*Cedric Benson, on the other hand, had a terrific game. He’s the reason this wasn’t a complete blowout. He’s a difference-making running back, and there just aren’t many of those in the league. Taking a chance on Benson last season has paid off handsomely for Cincy.
*Shonn Greene looked great for the Jets as well. The power he showed was impressive, and you could tell he had been rested well during the season because his runs had a ton of pop.
*Going forward, the Jets must stop the run better, although they won’t have to face a team in the AFC playoffs with as good of a running game as Cincinnati had. They should also be free to blitz a little more in the future because they won’t be facing such a good running attack, and that may lead them to more than 3 sacks. This was a good performance for Gang Green, but I’m still not convinced that they’ll come back next week and win again on the road. They’re simply not in the same class as either San Diego or Indy.
*I don’t normally do this in these posts, but I need to rant on just how bad NBC’s thrown-together announcing team of Tom Hammond, Joe Gibbs, and Joe Theismann was. Hammond was consistently wrong on player identifications, and he flat missed several key plays – a short kickoff that gave the Jets the ball at the 40, penalties by Darrelle Revis, etc. Hammond is a storyline guy, but he has to be able to put the story away and focus on shifts in the game. He failed to do so. Gibbs and Theismann, meanwhile, seemed more interested in talking about what they heard from coaches in their meetings Thursday and Friday instead of actually focusing on the game. At one point, Gibbs was making a point about the Jets’ running game when the Jets were on defense. The whole thing seemed scripted, and as a result there was almost no game analysis. Instead, Theismann reverted to his normal hyperbole – which is the reason he doesn’t broadcast NFL games regularly anymore. Here’s a hint to NBC: Next year, either bring over the NFL Network’s crew (Bob Papa, Matt Miller, Steve Mariucci, Marshall Faulk, or a combination thereof) for your second team, or ask John Madden to do a single game. Go to some of the NFL radio announcers. Anything would be better than the epic booth full of fail they gave us early Saturday.