CINCINNATI -- Rex Ryan didn't rip his team for its sloppy, penalty-laden performance, which included seven personal fouls. Just the oppposite, actually.
"The main thing is our guys are protecting each other," he said after the New York Jets' 25-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals Saturday night at Paul Brown Stadium. "Sometimes we have to look at [the penalties] and, did we cross the line a little bit? We'll look at it and address it. We want to be as physical a football team as we can possibly be within the confines of the rules. But we're not here to take anything from anybody. If a teammate's at risk, we're not going to take that."
The offensive line created most of the havoc. Right tackle Breno Giacomini had two personal fouls, as did guard Brian Winters, who surprisingly was replaced in the starting lineup by Oday Aboushi. (Winters had a total of three penalties). Guard Willie Colon added one personal foul. Even mild-mannered receiver Stephen Hill got into the action, earning one personal foul.
All told, the Jets were flagged 12 times for 133 yards. The Bengals were penalized 11 times for 92 yards. Ah, yes, preseason football.
Colon and Giacomini were the tone setters. First came a first-quarter interception by Terence Newman, who was down by contact after being tagged by wide receiver David Nelson. Giacomini apparently didn't hear the whistle because he tried to tackle Newman. In a nanosecond, Colon was on the scene, shoving Newman. Colon lost his helmet.
And so it began.
"I reacted like I felt I needed to," Colon said.
Ryan must have whipped his team into a frenzy because it was frothing. The Jets were humiliated by the Bengals last October, 49-9, and some players -- if you can believe it -- talked about payback. Sheldon Richardson said last week they "owe them one."
"We were fired up going into this game," Colon said. "Last time we stepped into this stadium, we got our butts handed to us. We got embarrassed the last time here -- no ifs, ands or buts. When we looked at that tape, that wasn't the Jets we want to be. They're a playoff team and we're trying to take that next step. We still have miles to walk, we understand that, but the preseason is a time to build that."
You can also fall into bad habits. The Jets suffered from penalty issues last season (hence, the penalty push-ups in practice), and now they were out of control in a preseason game. But there were no apologies from Ryan or his players. They're trying to build an attitude. They better hope they're not starting a trend.
It's a good thing the two teams didn't have joint practices, as had been discussed.