Mark Sanchez became just the first rookie quarterback to start and win a play-off game since 1950 as the New York Jets beat the Cincinnati Bengals 24-14 on Saturday. "It's pretty special," said Sanchez. "It's got nothing to do with me." Actually, the Jets' first play-off win since 2004 had everything to do with him. Sanchez completed 12 of 15 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown to finish the game with stratospheric passer rating of 139.4.
"He had the eye of the tiger today and he was ready to get out there and throw it around," the Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "I see him getting better and better each day on the practice field. What a job he's done. I think he's tired of hearing he's the weak link on this football team." And New York were also indebted to another rookie as running back Shonn Greene ran for 139 yards and a touchdown. Cedric Benson responded with 169 yards and a touchdown on the ground for the Bengals, but it was not enough as they lost for the second successive week to the Jets - only this time the loss ended their season.
"You have to make plays, and our downfall today was our inability at crucial times to make plays that made the difference," said the Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. "When you play at this level at the end of the year, during one of these games you are going to fall off the cliff at some point, unless you are the last team left. It all hurts." The Jets defence restricted the Bengals quarterback Carson Pal-mer to completing just 18 of his 36 passes for 146 yards.
They also intercepted Palmer once and the quarterback threw only one touchdown as his campaign ended with a whimper rather the bang he had been hoping to have. "This was a great team effort," said Ryan, who won in his play-off debut as a head coach. "We're a good football team. If people don't believe that, they soon will." * With agencies