The Jets did what they needed to keep themselves afloat in Cleveland. And it showed Sunday in the Meadowlands.
Whatever confidence the miracle win over the Browns generated was no match for the Bengals’ desperation. Cincinnati romped to a 27-12 win at MetLife Stadium to avoid a disastrous 0-3 start following last year’s Super Bowl appearance. And now the Jets’ season truly begins with Zach Wilson expected back in the lineup next week in Pittsburgh.
All the Jets had to do in the first three weeks was tread water. The season would have been more or less shot before Wilson returned with an 0-3 start. And no one ever thought 3-0 was a possibility. So 2-1 or 1-2 would suffice, and they got the latter. Which means everything is still in front of them so long as Wilson is who they believe him to be. But don’t expect fans to be that optimistic after this ugly effort.
There will certainly be no quarterback controversy after backup Joe Flacco reverted to his Week 1 form. But the Jets’ offense was the lesser of the issue in this game. The was shredded by quarterback Joe Burrow in a ghastly performance. They showed more fight with each other on the sideline than toward the opponent.
Burrow finished the day 23-for-36 for 275 yards and three touchdowns after setting a tone early. Eager for a quick start, the Bengals elected to receive after winning the coin toss. Burrow then took them 75 yards on 11 plays, capped with his first touchdown of the day with 9:35 left in the first quarter. Cincinnati led the rest of the way. If only CBS had just left the cameras off when they went out.
That said, the offense was bad as well. The Jets were unable to capitalize on the one defensive highlight — a fumble recovered on the Bengals’ 43 in the first quarter — and forced to settle for the first of Greg Zuerlein’s four field goals. Flacco was sacked four times. He turned the ball over three times (two interceptions and a fumble). Flacco finished 28-of-52 for 285 yards. And the run game was non-existent until the Jets had fallen well behind. In other words, more cosmetic offense with the result decided.
The only good news from the offense (besides the fact Wilson should return to action against the Steelers): Rookie wideout Garrett Wilson returned to the game after taking a vicious hit to his ribs. Left tackle George Fant (knee) did not return. Linebacker Quincy Williams left on a cart with a leg injury.
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