What it means: This will be remembered as The Brad Smith Game. Smith scored two huge touchdowns -- rushing and a kickoff return -- the signature moments in an otherwise sloppy game by the New York Jets. They didn't need a last-minute miracle to beat the lowly Cincinnati Bengals but they still have a lot of areas to clean up as they head into the toughest part of their schedule -- i.e., the New England Patriots.
Shoeless Brad: Smith enhanced his reputation as a Bengals killer by scoring those two long touchdowns -- a 53-yard run on an end-around and an 89-yard return on a kickoff. On the kickoff, he ran the last 50 yards or so with one shoe. The Bengals will have nightmares of Smith, who ran for 92 yards and a touchdown in last season's final game.
Not bad for "average": The anticipated Darrelle Revis-Terrell Owens showdown didn't produce any fireworks, mostly because Bengals QB Carson Palmer stayed away from Revis Island. Revis was in man-to-man coverage on Owens almost every down, and he limited the "Big Mouth" receiver to three catches for 17 yards. Owens, who famously called Revis "just an average corner" earlier in the week, was targeted only six times while covered by Revis. Bottom line: Revis made T.O. eat his words.
Amped D: After a few days of intense, high-decibel defensive meetings, with the coaches yelling, the Jets' beleaguered defense responded in a big way. It recorded two interceptions and three sacks, including one by Trevor Pryce in the end zone for a safety. The Jets used more blitzes than in recent games (and they worked), perhaps an indication that Rex Ryan got more involved in the play calling.
Tone Time: WR Santonio Holmes scored for the third straight week, burning newly signed CB Jonathan Wade on 13-yard slant in the third quarter. The coverage was terrible and Wade had no safety help. Brilliant move by the Bengals. The Jets should have been hitting that all night, but you know, sometimes it takes them a while to figure things out.
Lucky break: Holmes' touchdown was made possible because Bengals coach Marvin Lewis failed to challenge the Jets' recovery on a muffed punt. It was ruled on the field that the bouncing punt hit Andre Caldwell, but replays showed it didn't. Where was the red flag? Lewis seemed to have problems getting the flag out of his pocket.
Off day for Sanchise: This wasn't one of Mark Sanchez's smartest games. He threw a horrible interception in the third quarter, forcing a pass while being chased out of the pocket. A few minutes later, he nearly took an intentional-grounding penalty, foolishly flipping a pass to no one while being sacked at the 1-foot line. He also missed several open receivers, including a wide-open Braylon Edwards on what should have been a long touchdown.
Non-starters: Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer needs to take a hard look at how he scripts his plays to start games. The Jets have gone seven straight games without a first-quarter touchdown. Schottenheimer tends to be too preoccupied with trying to outsmart the opponent instead of attacking its obvious weaknesses. The Bengals' secondary was decimated by injuries, yet the Jets completed only five passes to wide receivers in the first half.
Pick 'em: The Jets snapped their streak of five straight games without an interception, with S Jim Leonhard and CB Antonio Cromartie producing first-half picks. Before everybody praises the defense, let's be real: They were two horrible throws by Palmer. The latter was a throw to Owens into triple coverage.
Depleted Cincy D: Talk about an injury bug. The Bengals played without five defensive starters: DT Tank Johnson, DE Frostee Rucker, CB Johnathan Joseph, S Roy Williams and S Chris Crockett. Things were so bad in the secondary that Wade, whom they signed off the street Monday, started at cornerback.
Undisciplined Jets: They were penalized eight times, including six times in the first half. This sounds like a broken record, but Ryan's crackdown is having no effect. The biggest penalty was unnecessary roughness on nickelback Drew Coleman, a questionable call that gave the Bengals a first-and-goal from the 5 instead of third down from the 11. The Bengals capitalized, scoring on a 5-yard pass to Jordan Shipley. Later, the Jets dodged a bullet after a fourth-down roughing-the-passer penalty on S James Ihedigbo. It put the Bengals in field goal range, but Aaron Pettrey missed from 27 yards.
What's ahead: Get ready for Armageddon, AFC East style. The Jets will make their highly anticipated trip to Foxborough, where they will face the New England Patriots (9-2) for sole possession of first place. The Jets won the Week 2 meeting 28-14, but the Patriots -- post-Randy Moss -- are humming on offense. They've scored 115 points in their past three games.