Final

Bengals 14

(4-9, 1-5 away)

Jets 15

(8-5, 3-4 home)

Coverage: CBS

1:00 PM ET, December 16, 2001

 

1 2 3 4 T
CIN 7 0 7 014
NYJ 0 3 0 1215

Jets stage uncharacteristic December win

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- With their December demons seemingly knocking them down again, the New York Jets did something unusual. They won.

Ignoring a history that says they plummet from the playoff race in the final month of the calendar, the Jets rallied in the fourth quarter Sunday for a 15-14 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Vinny Testaverde

Vinny Testaverde's two late TD passes Sunday helped the Jets snap their December jinx.

Seldom-used tight ends James Dearth and Anthony Becht caught short touchdown passes from Vinny Testaverde. Although New York failed on both 2-point conversions, it held on thanks to late interceptions by Damien Robinson and James Farrior.

"A win is what we wanted, hex or no hex," Becht said after the Jets broke a five-game December slide. "I've only been here two years and I am not really concerned with what happened before that, or even know much about it. We want to end this on a winning streak, and we have three left."

While they'll probably need two more wins to be assured of making the playoffs, the Jets (8-5) can't expect to get them playing well in spurts. They fell behind 14-3 before finding a rhythm in the fourth period.

"There may have been a little bit of a feeling of desperation, knowing time is running out," said Testaverde, who was told at halftime by coach Herman Edwards that "the game was on my shoulders. When he comes to me and asks me to step it up, my eyes light up and I get excited."

The Jets' sputtering offense woke up after Corey Dillon's second short TD run. Receptions of 18 and 27 yards by Kevin Swayne, another lightly used receiver, led to Dearth's first career scoring reception, a 1-yarder.

What will a win like this do for Vinny Testaverde's confidence?
It will help him -- for Vinny to bring the Jets back like he did should give him some confidence. And winning an important game in December helps the Jets' confidence, too; it should quiet the critics to a degree.

The Jets had some success throwing the ball, but they still need to open things up. New York needs to become more aggressive on offense. They can't be conservative but must take the game to the defense.

ESPN.com's Vinny Cerrato was director of player personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.

"I had a bad field-goal snap in the first half," said Dearth, the team's long snapper, "so that touchdown made me feel much better. It was a real good day for the tight ends."

Becht is the starting tight end, but doesn't get much action in the passing game. Testaverde could have ignored him after Becht's brutal drop on the game's first series. Instead, he scrambled at the 3 before finding Becht in the back of the end zone.

"My role changes every week," he said. "I was fortunate this week. I was able to do something positive."

A little trickery aided the Jets on their decisive drive. After an 18-yard pass interference call against Bengals cornerback Mark Roman, halfback LaMont Jordan took a direct snap, faked a handoff to Martin and sped 16 yards to the 5.

Damien Robinson then picked off Jon Kitna's pass and returned it 30 yards, but John Hall missed a 34-yard field goal with 1:11 remaining.

James Farrior, however, got the Jets' third interception of the game, putting them at a league-best plus-23 in turnover margin.

"We hadn't been getting many turnovers lately, and we knew how much they mean," Robinson said.

Before the comeback, Dillon went over 1,000 yards rushing for the fifth straight season and scored two touchdowns for Cincinnati (4-9).

While the Jets came out flat, the Bengals appeared ready to snap a five-game slide because of just two drives. But what drives they were, covering 81 and 87 yards, with Dillon the main weapon on both.

Cincinnati's first possession was a masterpiece of clock domination, lasting 20 plays and 12 minutes -- both team highs for the season. The Bengals converted four times on third downs and once on fourth-and-1. Dillon concluded the drive with a 1-yard dive.

Hall missed a 40-yard field goal wide left after the bad snap, then hit a 24-yarder with 18 seconds left in the half to make it 7-3.

Bengals quarterback Akili Smith left in the second period with a hamstring problem -- he is out for next week -- and was replaced by Kitna, who had a sprained finger on his right hand. Kitna's second pass, a desperation throw at the end of the second quarter, was picked off by rookie Jamie Henderson.

But Kitna guided a 13-play, 87-yard drive on which Dillon gained 63 yards and scored from the 3, making it 14-3.

"I'm so ticked off, the only thing I can do is try to relax," said Dillon, who has 1,010 yards rushing. "Until we get over the hump and learn what we have to do to win, this is what will happen."

Game notes
The Bengals were without linebacker Steve Foley, whose 44-game starting streak was snapped because of a back problem. ... Besides their 81- and 87-yard drives, the Bengals gained 80 yards. ... Testaverde moved into 14th place with 238 career touchdown passes ... Henderson's interception was his first in the NFL.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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