Sanchez sharp as Jets tame Bengals, 24-14
• Photo gallery: AFC Wild Card - Jets vs. Bengals
CINCINNATI — With their rookie quarterback playing mistake-free, the New York Jets turned their surprising playoff appearance into a long-running production.
Mark Sanchez handled single-degree wind chills and the playoff pressure with no problems yesterday, throwing a touchdown pass on a rollout play, and the NFL's top running game took it from there, setting up a 24-14 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Sanchez went 12 of 15 for 182 yards, becoming the fourth rookie quarterback since 1950 to start and win a playoff game. Considered the Jets' weakest link heading into the playoffs, he became their focal point.
"He just kept getting better as the season went along," coach Rex Ryan said. "I told him this was his second season now. His first season is over. This is the playoffs."
Third-round pick Shonn Greene ran for 135 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown, as the Jets' rookies made the pivotal plays under the biggest pressure.
The Jets (10-7) got their first playoff victory since 2004 and pulled off a rare back-to-back sweep of the Bengals (10-7), who got a team playoff-record 169 yards from Cedric Benson but little else. Cincinnati's streak without a playoff win reached 19 years and counting.
"They might have a chance to make a move," Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer said. "Their defense is that good."
Sanchez looked like a playoff pro, joining Shaun King, Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger as rookie quarterbacks to win postseason starts. His passer rating was a stratospheric 139.4.
The Jets pulled ahead 14-7 by halftime with two big plays off Sanchez's hand. He faked a handoff and made a perfect pitchout to Greene, who needed only one block to find open space for a 39-yard touchdown run.
In the second quarter, Sanchez rolled to his right and found tight end Dustin Keller running uncovered beyond the secondary. The throw was perfect, and Keller kept his balance for the last 15 yards while safety Chinedum Ndukwe vainly tried to knock him out of bounds.
"It just blows your mind," Sanchez said. "It's unbelievable. I hope I have this feeling next week."
N.Y. JETS 0 14 7 3—24
CINCINNATI 7 0 0 7—14
Cin—Coles 11 pass from C.Palmer (Graham kick), 7:07.
NYJ—Greene 39 run (Feely kick), 11:52.
NYJ—Keller 45 pass from Sanchez (Feely kick), 6:19.
NYJ—Jones 9 run (Feely kick), 2:18.
Cin—Benson 47 run (Graham kick), 11:04.
NYJ—FG Feely 20, 5:47.
First downs 15 18
Total Net Yards 353 281
Rushes-yards 41-171 22-171
Passing 182 110
Punt Returns 2-26 1-23
Kickoff Returns 3-56 5-128
Interceptions Ret. 1-20 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 12-15-0 18-36-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 0-0 3-36
Punts 7-31.4 4-48.0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-Yards 9-76 6-55
Time of Possession 33:02 26:58
RUSHING—N.Y. Jets, Greene 21-135, Jones 15-34, B.Smith 2-4, Sanchez 3-(minus 2). Cincinnati, Benson 21-169, C.Palmer 1-2.
PASSING—N.Y. Jets, Sanchez 12-15-0-182. Cincinnati, C.Palmer 18-36-1-146.
RECEIVING—N.Y. Jets, Cotchery 6-67, Keller 3-99, Edwards 2-15, B.Smith 1-1. Cincinnati, Coles 6-48, Cosby 3-26, Benson 3-12, Ochocinco 2-28, Caldwell 2-25, Leonard 2-7.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Cincinnati, Graham 35 (WL), 28 (WR).