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Jets revert to early-season form, fall to previously winless Bengals

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is sacked by Bengals

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is sacked by Bengals strong safety Shawn Williams during the second half on Sunday in Cincinnati. Credit: AP/Gary Landers

CINCINNATI — The Jets’ locker room was quieter than usual. They were dispirited and downtrodden after another embarrassing defeat.

You could tell this one hurt, and rightfully so. The Jets faced a winless team on Sunday and didn’t really show up.

They reverted to some old, nasty early-season habits and were embarrassed, 22-6, by the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.

At least they have no more winless teams left on their schedule. They also have no reason to talk about making a playoff run.

“We’ve taken our lumps this year,” left tackle Kelvin Beachum said. “This is a lump that’s going to be hard to swallow. We got to eat it and go and move on from it.”

The Jets (4-8) watched the Bengals dump a bucket of Gatorade on Zac Taylor after his first NFL win in his 12th game as coach.

Four weeks ago, the same thing happened in Florida. The Jets fell to winless Miami and the Dolphins showered Brian Flores with Gatorade.

The Jets became the first team in NFL history to lose to two winless teams in the same season who entered a game 0-7 or worse, according to ESPN.

These two humbling losses could define the Jets’ season and Adam Gase’s first year as coach. In both games, the Jets didn’t play with the same passion or urgency as their opponent, and they certainly didn’t execute as well.

“It sucks,” Le’Veon Bell said. “It sucks. We just got to find a way to get better.”

Penalties, dropped passes and constant pressure on Sam Darnold doomed the Jets’ offense. They had two 23-yard gains brought back by penalties. An offensive holding call in the end zone also gave the Bengals two points.

After scoring 34 points in each of the previous three games, the Jets didn’t get in the red zone, let alone the end zone. Sam Ficken’s two field goals accounted for all of their scoring.

The Bengals had the worst run defense in the NFL, allowing more than 166 yards. The Jets rushed for 62.

Darnold completed 28 of 48 passes for 239 yards and was hobbling at the end of the game. He was sacked four times and hit on numerous other occasions. Bell carried the ball 10 times for 32 yards. “Our defense, this one’s not on them,” Gase said. “We did not do enough on offense.”

True, but the defense wasn’t sharp. Andy Dalton, back as the Bengals’ starting quarterback after watching rookie Ryan Finley for three games, was sharp in his return, going 22-for-37 for 243 yards and a touchdown.

Things started fine for the Jets, who scored on their opening drive for a franchise record- tying sixth straight game on Ficken’s 42-yard field goal. But they had multiple drops on the drive, including one by a sliding Robby Anderson in the end zone.

From there, the Jets gave up 17 unanswered points as breakdowns and penalties cost them on both sides of the ball.

On the Bengals’ second series, Dalton marched the offense down the field. He connected with Tyler Boyd for a 17-yard TD pass on the seventh play.

Cincinnati should have gotten another touchdown on its next possession, but tight end C.J. Uzomah dropped a sure TD pass. The Bengals settled for Randy Bullock’s 24-yard field goal.

The Jets moved the ball on their next series, and a screen pass to Bilal Powell went for 23 yards to the Cincinnati 17. But it was called back because Beachum was called for an illegal block in the back. The Jets punted.

The Bengals went up 17-3 on Joe Mixon’s 5-yard touchdown run,  the first rushing touchdown the Jets have allowed since Oct. 21 against the Patriots. The score was set up by a 39-yard pass-interference penalty on linebacker Neville Hewitt that gave the Bengals a first-and-goal from the 5.

Ficken’s 39-yard field goal with four seconds left in the half cut it to 17-6, but the Jets’ struggles carried into the second half.

They were pinned at their own 2 on their second series of the third quarter. A false start on first down backed them up to the 1, and on second down, Beachum was called for holding in the end zone, resulting in a safety.

The Bengals went ahead 22-6 on the ensuing possession on Bullock’s 47-yard field goal.

“I don’t care about the records,” Beachum said. “The records are irrelevant. This is December football. You either put up or shut up in December football, and we didn’t do our job.”

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