Jets-Bengals: New York Earns Playoff Spot, Stomps Cincinnati 37-0

Malcolm DiazCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 03:  Brad Smith #16  of the New York Jets runs in a touchdown in the second quarter against Frostee Rucker #92 of the Cincinnati Bengals at Giants Stadium on January 3, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Call them lucky if you want, but Rex Ryan’s New York Jets are playoff bound!

Despite a roller coaster season of ups and downs, this team managed to fight its way into a wild card spot on the last day of the 2009 season.

One thing is for sure this season...these are NOT your daddy’s "Same Old Jets."

Not by a long shot.

Rookie Mark Sanchez led a clock-eating offense as the New York Jets clinched their first playoff berth in three seasons with a 37-0 victory Sunday night over the Bengals. In contrast, the Bengals offense was completely stymied by the Jets' top-ranked defense.

The Jets’ last shutout at home was Dec. 14, 2003, when they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 6-0.

Just a couple of weeks back we had all but written them off...head coach Ryan included!

New York appeared to be out of the playoff hunt two weeks ago after a loss to Atlanta, prompting Ryan to mistakenly say his team’s playoff chances were over during the post-game press conference.

Despite it all, the Jets found themselves the masters of their own destinies when the Sunday night game commenced, needing only to win to gain a wild card berth. They did not disappoint, handling the Bengals soundly on both sides of the ball.

Offensively, Sanchez was 8-for-16 for 63 yards with no turnovers, Thomas Jones ran for 78 yards with two touchdowns, and wide receiver Brad Smith had 92 yards rushing, including a 32-yard TD run. The Jets set a record for rushing yards in a season, finishing this contest with 257 yards rushing on 57 carries.

Defensively, the Jets dominated Carson Palmer and the Bengals. Palmer was 1-for-11 for zero yards before J.T. O’Sullivan replaced him.

Just how badly were they dominated? One only needs to review the halftime stats to get a clue. New York had 250 yards at halftime, including 190 on the ground, to seven for Cincinnati. Cincinnati would finish the game with 72 net yards on offense.

All in all, the Jets' performance was exactly what one would expect from a team that finished No. 1 in the NFL in total defense, passing defense, points allowed, and rushing offense.

The victory sets up a rematch of the two teams in the first round on Saturday at Cincinnati. Many are speculating now about this second meeting; will the Jets be able to reproduce their winning effort?

Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco says his team will be ready:

"We’ll be fine, we’ll study a lot of things we can fix, especially offensively. Next week will be a lot more serious."

The Jets proved to be a class act after the final regular season game in Giants Stadium history (and possibly its last game ever) was over. Ryan led his players 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.

“It was great,” cornerback Darrelle Revis said. “We had to give back to the fans. They stuck with us.”

Cincinnati fell to 0-11 at Giants Stadium, including 0-8 against the Jets.