Unit Grades: The Bengals Game

The New York Jets improved to 9-2 with an impressive defensive performance on Thursday night against the Bengals and rode the fleet feet of one Brad Smith to a 26-10 win. A look at the grades, by unit:

Quarterback: Some indecision from Mark Sanchez cost him in what was a sloppy game for the offense. Sanchez should have done better than his 16-28, 166 yards in the air, with one touchdown and one poorly thrown interception – a pass where he should have mailed it out of bounds instead of forcing it downfield. It was Sanchez's third lowest passing total on the season and it came against a Bengals secondary that was depleted through injury. Completely unacceptable, even in wet conditions. It was slippery, but the animals weren't quite ready to line up two by two. No excuses. Grade: C-

Running Backs: Shonn Greene finally had a solid performance, his 70 rushing yards pacing the team. The fourth quarter in particular is where Greene's punishing running style helped the Jets hold onto the ball and wear down the Cincinnati defense. It was a quiet night for LaDainian Tomlinson, who amassed just 63 yards of total offense. Not an overwhelming night from either player, but effective nonetheless. Getting Greene more carries is important with games against New England and Pittsburgh ahead on the schedule. Grade: B-

Wide Receivers: There were some drops and poor routes, but it was a serviceable night for the receiving corps, even as Sanchez struggled to deliver them quality passes. Brad Smith registered a catch in replacing the injured Jerricho Cotchery, but he was effective with a little "trickeration" early in the third quarter, where he took a reverse to the end zone for a lead-changing and momentum shifting score. Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards were both relatively quiet as Dustin Keller lead the team with 49 receiving yards. Grade: B-

Offensive Line: Up and down performance for the men up front, who were solid in the run blocking but conceded way too many hurries on Sanchez in the pocket, who was twice sacked. D'Brickasahw Ferguson picked up and uncharacteristic penalty early in the game. A unit that last year was solid and dependable, seems uneven week in and week out. Grade: C+

Defensive Line: It was quality to see Trevor Pryce, claimed off waivers from Baltimore a few weeks ago, register his first sack with the team. All told, the Jets four most rotated players along the line in their 3-4 scheme, that being Pryce, Mike DeVito, Shaun Ellis and Sione Pouha, registered just five tackles combined in the game. The unit never was a sack-happy bunch, even last year on the league's top-rated defense they were middle of the table in sacks accumulated, but the lack of pressure they generate is disturbing. Grade: C-

Linebackers: Big games again for Calvin Pace, who was constantly in the backfield making plays with six tackles and a sack. David Harris continued his solid showing with four tackles and a sack of his own. Overall, the linebackers had a solid game and adjusted well to the Bengals play action, limiting tight end Jermaine Gresham to just two catches. Grade: B+

Secondary: So much for "average" as Darrelle Revis shut down Terrell Owens and Antonio Cromartie did an outstanding job on Chad Ochocinco. All told, the mouthy duo were all talk and no walk, being limited to just seven combined catches for just 58 yards. Eric Smith enjoyed a career day, showing fellow namesake Brad Smith that he too can grab a headline with a team-high eight tackles. Drew Coleman and James Ihedigbo were both the recipients of questionable illegal hit flags. Grade: A-

Special Teams: While Brad Smith's 89-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter sealed the game for the Jets, it was an outstanding evening for punter Steve Weatherford. Lost in the hubbub of Smith's brilliance on the return is the fact that Weatherford averaged 41 yards on his punts and five times pinned the Bengals inside their own 20-yard line. Nick Folk missed his second field goal attempt, on the stroke of half time, after having his effort which he nailed moments earlier nullified by a late Bengals timeout. Grade: B+

Coaching: The Jets came out strong defensively, with coordinator Mike Pettine's unit limiting a high-octane Bengals offense to just 10 points. The offense, however, struggled to take advantage of a beat-up and raw Cincinnati secondary and needed some gadget plays to move the ball down the field. The Jets can't be this sloppy Monday night against New England. If they are, they're going home with their third loss. Grade: B-


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