Toronto, Canada – CINCINNATI (Reuters) - Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez and the NFL's top-ranked defense carried the New York Jets to a 24-14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC wild card game on Saturday.
Back in the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Jets moved on to a divisional contest while the Bengals, who have not won a playoff contest since 1991, saw their drought continue for another year.
Sanchez enjoyed a brilliant playoff debut completing 12 of 15 passes for 182 yards and one touchdown to become just the fourth rookie quarterback since 1950 to start and win a playoff game. He joins Shaun King, Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger as the only first year quarterbacks to win playoff contests.
"I told him this was his second season now. His first season is over, this is the playoffs."
It marked the second time in a week the Jets had tamed the Bengals, setting up the rematch after crushing Cincinnati 37-0 last Sunday in their regular season finale to clinch a playoff spot.
The Bengals had the capacity crowd on its feet early when they returned the opening kickoff 57 yards deep into Jets' territory only to squander the scoring chance on a Laveranues Coles fumble.
Coles made amends on the next Cincinnati possession, the former-Jets wide receiver hauling in an 11-yard touchdown strike from Carson Palmer to put the home side up 7-0.
The Jets took off in the second quarter, Shonn Greene racing 39 yards down the sideline for a score and Sanchez hooking up with Dustin Keller on 45-yard touchdown strike set up by a Darrelle Revis interception.
New York added to their lead in the third quarter, Thomas Jones powering nine yards up the middle for the touchdown to cap a 75 yard drive.
The Bengals clawed their way back into the contest in the fourth quarter when Cedric Benson exploded for a 47 yard touchdown run to trim the New York lead to 21-14.
The Jets responded to the threat, however, with a 20 yard Jay Feely field goal to take a 10 point lead with just over five minutes to play.
Shayne Graham, who missed a 35 yarder early in the third quarter, had a chance to keep the Bengals in the game with four minutes remaining but misfired on a 28 yarder that would have put Cincinnati within a touchdown.
"Our guys are a resilient bunch, it's a great team effort and we are a heck of a football team," said Ryan. "That's what we believe.
"If people don't believe it hopefully they will and soon."
(Writing by Steve Keating in Vancouver; editing by Nick Mulvenney)