Bengals seek to get back on track against Jets

The Cincinnati Bengals aren’t hitting the panic button after losing their first two games. Co-captain Ted Karras said there’s an opportunity to get back on track quickly with two games coming up in the next 10 days.

That starts Sunday when the Bengals play the New York Jets (1-1) at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Cincinnati is looking for its first win ahead of a Thursday Night Football home game against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 29.

“We have two games in 10 days, starting with a big challenge against a good Jets front,” Karras said. “We have an opportunity here to get on a roll and that’s our goal.”

“We’re focused on one game at a time, obviously, but you have to take extra care of yourself this week and next,” he added. “We do have an opportunity to go into a break even it up. We’re fortunate (Sunday) that everyone in the division lost, so we’re not falling too far behind but I’ve been 0-2 before. I’ve been 0-2 twice and made the playoffs both times so it’s obviously a hole you won’t want to dig yourself into. We’re going to have to get out of it.”

Karras was part of a Patriots’ squad that opened last season 1-3 and made the playoffs. During his one-year stint with the Miami Dolphins in 2020, they opened 0-2 but just missed the playoffs. In 2018, the Patriots were 1-2 and went on to win the Super Bowl.

The seventh-year offensive lineman said early adversity helped past teams that started off slowly and finished strong.

“I think that early season frustration can be a theme for good teams in the NFL but we haven’t played to what we need to play to yet,” Karras said. “So we haven’t put out a winning effort. We’ve been close but that means nothing. We need to finish. And that’s what this league is, finishing the one or two plays that put you over the top and the ones we’re in we’ve lost it on the last play two weeks in a row. That could crush a lot of people but nothing breaks our spirit. We’re ready to roll.”

The Jets are coming off an impressive win over the Browns on Sunday when they rallied back from a 30-17 deficit in the final two minutes.

Nick Chubb had scored the final touchdown for Cleveland with 1:55 left, and Joe Flacco connected with Corey Davis on a 66-yard touchdown pass with 1:22 remaining to make it a one-score game. The Jets recovered an onside kick and Garrett Wilson caught the game-winning touchdown with 22 seconds left for a 31-30 win.

New York had opened with a 24-9 loss to Baltimore the week prior.

The Bengals lost to the Jets, 34-31, last year on the road, breaking a string of three straight victories in the series. New York scored twice in the final five minutes to come back from a 10-point deficit with backup quarterback Mike White leading the way.

This time, Flacco is the backup quarterback getting the start, as he’s filling in for Zach Wilson, who has been out since August with a knee injury that required surgery. Flacco has 616 yards passing (third most in the NFL) and five touchdowns with one interception and a league-high 103 passing attempts through two games.

Michael Carter and Breece Hall have combined for 156 yards on 30 carries.

C.J. Mosley leads New York’s defense with 18 tackles combined, and former Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson has a half-sack and three quarterback hits as a big piece of the Jets’ pass rush. Cornerback D.J. Reed has two forced turnovers with a forced fumble and interception.

Karras has a unique perspective on the Jets after five years in New England playing them twice a season as a divisional rival, but said the key for the Bengals is just executing blocks up front and getting the offense producing at the level it was expecting with all the key skill players back from 2021.

“We have to have our defense’s back,” Karras said. “They’re obviously going to have ours all year. I think we have two great units but offensively we have to step it up.”


Bengals at Jets, 1 p.m., Ch. 7, 12; 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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