"Every time you give Kenny a chance, he makes the best of it," Bengals Head Coach, Marvin Lewis, said of the surprising play of his backup running back. "He did a great job today."
The Jets decision to spend much of the afternoon double teaming the Bengals dangerous wide receiving tandem of Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh left them vulnerable to the run, and Watson took advantage. His two fourth quarter touchdowns turned a 23-17 deficit into a 31-23 lead and proved fatal to Jets chances for a victory.
Eric Mangini's bunch has struggled with consistency all season long, and Sunday was no different. The team looked sharp in the first half, taking a 10 point lead into the intermission. Nugent extended the lead to 13 in the third quarter, but the offense stalled from that point forward. The Bengals capitalized on nearly every Jets mistake and rattled off 28 straight unanswered points to grab their second win of the season.
"I am tired of giving the same speech," Mangini said, in a rare display of emotion, after the game. "I am tired of us walking in after a game where we have only played one good half of football. I am tired of seeing us play poor in the second half. No penalties in the first half, and multiple in the second half. We shanked a punt, couldn't get the snap count right, and gave away a fumble. We didn't do the things we talked about doing in all three phases of the game at halftime. It was not good enough coaching on my part. It was not good enough from our assistant coaches. It was not good enough from the players."
The loss drops the Jets 1-6 on the season and all but ends any realistic hopes of a playoff berth.
It was reported earlier in the day that Mangini had warned Chad Pennington that his job was on the line. Pennington did not play terribly, throwing for 272 yards and three touchdowns. However, the bulk of his success came early as he struggled to find much of a second half rhythm.
Cornerback Jonathon Joseph returned a Pennington interception 42 yards for a touchdown with under a minute left to play, extending the Bengals lead to 38-23 and putting to rest any chances of a Jets comeback.
The interception was Pennington's most glaring mistake of the afternoon, yet it likely didn't cost the Jets the game. Only time will tell if it cost him his job.