CINCINNATI - Same Old Bengals.
The team with the longest playoff dry spell in the NFL continued to shrivel up in the postseason Saturday as the Jets earned a 24-14 win in front of a tiger-striped crowd that wound up meowing its way out of the stadium. The Bengals have not won a playoff game since the end of the 1990 season.
"We had such big expectations for ourselves and our fans did too," Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer said. "A lot of teams make the playoffs, but only one team goes home smiling and excited. Everyone else goes home feeling terrible with emptiness in their stomach."
For Palmer, the loss was particularly piercing. It was only the second playoff game of his career, and his first one lasted just two snaps before a knee injury took him out of it.
Palmer was battling injuries Saturday as well and said he'll have offseason surgery on his left (non-throwing) thumb, which he injured in the fifth game of the season. He completed 18 of 36 passes for 146 yards, had a touchdown and an interception, and was sacked three times against the Jets, coughing the ball up once.
Palmer had open receivers at some points but was unable to hit them with passes that routinely sailed high.
"I don't know if it was jitters or not, but I was missing some balls early," he said. "I felt like I started to get it back as the game went on."
Former Jets receiver Laveranues Coles left the game with a head injury, believed to be a concussion. It was a series of those concussions that played a role in scaring the Jets off from giving Coles a long-term extension, and he eventually wound up with the Bengals. Coles, who missed time during the game with a thumb injury but returned, had six receptions for 48 yards and a TD but also fumbled after his first reception . . . Several other key injuries slowed the Bengals. Starting linebacker Rashad Jeanty broke his fibula on the opening kickoff. Receiver Andre Caldwell played most of the game with a sprained ankle . . . The Bengals had been 6-0 in games in which Cedric Benson ran for at least 100 yards. He had 169 yards on 21 carries against the Jets, a Bengals playoff record.