Ihedigbo, Smith's efforts lift Jets over Bengals

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Reuters) - New York's James Ihedigbo recovered a punt deep in Cincinnati Bengals' territory and Brad Smith returned a kickoff 89 yards as the Jets special team players set up a 26-10 win on Thursday.

Ihedigbo's punt recovery after Andre Caldwell failed to control a loose ball set up Santonio Holmes' 13-yard touchdown to give the Jets a 17-7 lead before Smith extended the lead to 24-10 early in the fourth quarter.

"He's an amazing guy," Holmes said of Smith, who had 200 all-purpose yards.

"He's been patient. All this season I've seen him work in practice. He's been battling injuries, playing quarterback, running back, special teams, wide receiver, whatever it is. He's been out there. He's our guy. He's our X-factor."

The Jets improved to 9-2 and kept pace at the top of the AFC East with the New England Patriots, who beat the Detroit Lions 45-24 earlier on Thursday.

The Bengals have now lost eight successive games.

"You can pin this one on me," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.

"We lost the football game. The thing I'm most disappointed with is that we were not able to get our guys through the errors.

"The mistakes came back and bit us in the butts. Both of the big plays, we were unable to defend."

Wide receiver Smith, who like Ihedigbo plays on the special teams for the Jets, also scored on a 53-yard run on the second play of the second half to give New York the lead after trailing 7-3 at halftime.

The Jets also added two points by sacking Bengals' quarterback Carson Palmer in the endzone for a safety in the fourth quarter.

The Bengals only touchdown was from a five-yard pass from Palmer to Jordan Shipley in the second quarter.

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario. Editing by Greg Stutchbury/Patrick Johnston)