Final

Jets 24

(9-7, 5-3 away)

Bengals 14

(10-6, 6-2 home)

Coverage: NBC

4:30 PM ET, January 9, 2010

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH 

1 2 3 4 T
NYJ 0 14 7 324
CIN 7 0 0 714

Top Performers

Passing: M. Sanchez (NYJ) - 182 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: C. Benson (CIN) - 21 CAR, 169 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: D. Keller (NYJ) - 3 REC, 99 YDS, 1 TD

Sanchez, Greene perform under pressure as Jets extend playoff run

Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- One playoff game into his career, Mark Sanchez is giving a pretty good off-Broadway performance.

More from ESPN.com

Cool, confident Mark Sanchez: Is this the same rookie the Jets tried to bubble wrap? In his playoffs debut, he beat the Bengals soundly, Tim Graham writes. Blog


Carson Palmer and the Bengals were left in a state of disbelief after their quick playoff exit, James Walker writes. Blog

So are the rest of the New York Jets, who are no longer an overlooked team after dismantling the AFC North champions twice within a week.

Any more doubters?

With their rookie quarterback playing mistake-free, the Jets turned their surprising playoff appearance into a long-running production Saturday. Sanchez threw a touchdown pass, and the NFL's top running game took it from there, setting up a 24-14 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

"It's pretty special," Sanchez said. "It's got nothing to do with me."

Actually, the Jets' first playoff win since 2004 had everything to do with him.

Playing in single-digit wind chills against a defense that tried its best to put the game in his hands, Sanchez went 12 of 15 for 182 yards and a stratospheric passer rating of 139.4.

Considered the Jets' weakest link heading into the playoffs, he became their focal point, getting his first playoff win ahead of Carson Palmer, his boyhood idol.

Fast Facts

• The Jets won their first playoff game since beating the Chargers in the 2004 Wild Card round.

• Mark Sanchez became just the fourth rookie QB in NFL history to win his postseason debut, joining Shaun King ('99 Bucs), Ben Roethlisberger ('04 Steelers) and Joe Flacco ('08 Ravens). Sanchez and Flacco are the only ones to do it on the road.

• Sanchez was an efficient 12 for 15 for 182 yards and 1 TD, good for a passer rating of 139.4.

• Jets rookie Shonn Greene carried 21 times for 135 yards and a TD. Greene's total was tied for the third-highest by a rookie in his postseason debut since the merger. It was also tied for the second-highest single-game total in Jets posteason history.

• The Bengals have not won a playoff game since 1990 (lost three straight). That 19-year drought is the longest active streak in the NFL.

• Blog thread

-- ESPN Stats & Information

"He had the eye of the tiger today and he was ready to get out there and throw it around," coach Rex Ryan said. "I see him getting better and better each day on the practice field. What a job he's done. I think he's tired of hearing he's the weak link on this football team."

He wasn't the only rookie making plays under pressure for New York (10-7). Third-round pick Shonn Greene ran for 135 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown, leading a running game that churned out 171 yards for a rare back-to-back sweep of the Bengals (10-7).

Cedric Benson ran for a Bengals-record 169 yards in a playoff game, but Cincinnati managed little else. Its streak without a playoff win reached 19 years and counting.

The Jets?

"They might have a chance to make a move," said Palmer, who was off-target and under pressure most of the game. "Their defense is that good."

Take Palmer's word for that.

Cincinnati went to the Meadowlands six days earlier and got turned into road kill. The Jets ran for 257 yards, and the Bengals managed a total of 72 yards, with Chad Ochocinco getting shut out. Little changed the second time around -- Ochocinco had two catches for 28 yards in the rematch.

"This was a great team effort," said Ryan, who won in his playoff debut as a head coach. "We're a good football team. If people don't believe that, they soon will."

No one should count the Jets out now, not the way their coach did two weeks ago. Ryan thought the Jets were out of contention following a 10-7 loss to the Falcons that was set up by Sanchez's three interceptions. Then, everything lined up in their favor.

The Colts pulled their starters a week later, allowing the Jets to rally for a win, while four other playoff contenders lost. Then, the Bengals showed up at the Meadowlands and lost 37-0 with little at stake.

Ryan's father, Buddy, was the defensive line coach for the '69 Jets, who won the Super Bowl title that Broadway Joe Namath had guaranteed. These Jets came into the playoffs as an off-Broadway show, lacking a star quarterback who could deliver a win.

Until Saturday.

Sanchez looked like a playoff pro, joining Shaun King, Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger as rookie quarterbacks to win postseason starts. At times, Sanchez found himself on the sideline soaking it all in.

On the Mark

Mark Sanchez's performance against Cincinnati was the second-highest completion percentage in a postseason debut in which the QB attempted at least 15 passes. He finished only barely behind Kurt Warner.

Player Team Opp. Pct.
'99 Kurt Warner STL MIN .818
'09 Mark Sanchez NYJ CIN .800
'85 Ken O'Brien NYJ NE .765
'91 Erik Kramer DET DAL .763
'02 Chad Pennington NYJ IND .760

"It just blows your mind," he said. "It's unbelievable. I hope I have this feeling next week."

Sanchez was by far the lowest-ranked passer in the playoffs, throwing 20 interceptions in his rookie season -- second-most in the league. The Bengals wanted to put the game in his hands. Playing without a glove on his passing hand in an 8-degree wind chill, the kid from Southern California handled it without a bobble.

Afterward, the team presented a game ball to owner Woody Johnson, whose daughter, Casey, was found dead in her Los Angeles home on Monday. Johnson's eyes were red as he left the locker room.

The Jets also had a scare at the outset when punter Steve Weatherford was ruled out because of dizziness and an elevated heartbeat. Kicker Jay Feely punted for the first time in his NFL career, averaging 31 yards on seven kicks. He also made 20-yard field goal with 5:47 to go that put Cincinnati too far behind.

"I was so happy that I was kicking a field goal [then] instead of punting," Feely said. "That was great."

The Jets pulled ahead 14-7 by halftime with two big plays off Sanchez's hand. He faked a handoff and made a perfect pitchout to Greene, who needed only one block to find open space for a 39-yard touchdown run, the longest of his career.

In the second quarter, Sanchez caught the Bengals off-guard. He rolled to his right and found tight end Dustin Keller running uncovered beyond the secondary. The throw was perfect, and Keller kept his balance for the last 15 yards while safety Chinedum Ndukwe vainly tried to knock him out of bounds.

At halftime, Sanchez was 7 of 10 for 94 yards with a passer rating of 132.9. It could have been even better -- Braylon Edwards let a pass slip through his hands in the end zone.

Sanchez led an eight-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in Thomas Jones' 9-yard run for a 21-7 lead late in the third quarter. Benson broke a 47-yard touchdown run -- the longest in Bengals playoff history -- that got Cincinnati within a touchdown, but Sanchez and Greene turned it on again.

The game ended with a little more Jets serendipity. Shayne Graham, the Bengals' franchise-tagged player, missed two field goals in the second half, including a 28-yarder with 3:49 to go that essentially sealed it.

Game notes


Greene was the third rookie since 2000 to rush for 100 yards in a playoff game. ... Feely had one punt in college and didn't punt in high school. ... Bengals LB Rashad Jeanty broke his left leg on the opening kickoff. ... Bengals WRs Laveranues Coles (thumb) and Andre Caldwell (ankle) suffered injuries in the second quarter, but returned in the second half. ... Palmer said he'll have surgery on his left (non-throwing) thumb, which he injured in the fifth game of the season. He wore a removable brace for the rest of the season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
NYJ
CIN
1st Downs1518
Passing 1st downs
87
Rushing 1st downs
76
1st downs from Penalties
05
3rd down efficiency
3-125-14
4th down efficiency
0-00-1
Total Plays5661
Total Yards353281
Yards per play6.34.6
Total Drives1212
Passing182110
Comp - Att
12-1518-36
Yards per pass
12.13.1
Interceptions thrown
01
Sacks - Yards Lost
0-03-36
Rushing171171
Rushing Attempts
4122
Yards per rush
4.27.8
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-21-3
Penalties9-766-55
Turnovers02
Fumbles lost
01
Interceptions thrown
01
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession33:0226:58

Passing Leaders

NYJC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Sanchez12/1518212.1100-0
CINC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Palmer18/361464.1113-36

Rushing Leaders

NYJCARYDSAVGTDLG
Greene211356.4139
Jones15342.319
CINCARYDSAVGTDLG
Benson211698.0147
Palmer122.002

Receiving Leaders

NYJRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Keller39933.01454
Cotchery66711.20186
CINRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Coles6488.011311
Ochocinco22814.00196

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERNYJCIN
cinTD07:07Laveranues Coles 11 Yd Pass From Carson Palmer (Shayne Graham Kick) 07
SECOND QUARTERNYJCIN
nyjTD11:52Shonn Greene 39 Yd Run (Jay Feely Kick) 77
nyjTD06:19Dustin Keller 45 Yd Pass From Mark Sanchez (Jay Feely Kick) 147
THIRD QUARTERNYJCIN
nyjTD02:18Thomas Jones 9 Yd Run (Jay Feely Kick) 217
FOURTH QUARTERNYJCIN
cinTD11:04Cedric Benson 47 Yd Run (Shayne Graham Kick) 2114
nyjFG05:47Jay Feely 20 Yd 2414