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Yes, the NY Jets beat the 2021 AFC champions (with Mike White)

Mike White, Cincinnati Bengals, NY Jets
Mike White, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Getty Images

Remember when the New York Jets beat the future AFC champions with Mike White?

On Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals clinched a Super Bowl appearance for the first time since 1989. Second-year phenom Joe Burrow teamed up with Ja’Marr Chase and the Bengals’ clutch defense to take down the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 27-24 in overtime at Arrowhead Stadium.

Earlier this month, Cincinnati defeated the Chiefs to clinch the AFC North division at home. Four weeks later, the Bengals beat Kansas City once again – this time in the loudest stadium in the NFL.

It’s safe to say that few expected the fourth-seeded Bengals to make it all the way to the Super Bowl. Fresh off a 4-11-1 season and less than two seasons removed from picking first overall in the NFL draft, they were understandably sleepers.

Yet, somehow, with one of the youngest, least experienced teams in the NFL, they managed to make it farther than any major Cincinnati sports team in over 30 years.

It might be a good time to mention the New York Jets beat this team… with their backup quarterback.

Take a second. Bask in the glory. The Jets are one game away from being able to say, “We beat the Super Bowl champions this season.”

On Oct. 31, the Jets defeated the Bengals by a score of 34-31 at MetLife Stadium. It’s worth mentioning the Bengals were nearly at full strength. A healthy offense consisting of Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, C.J. Uzomah simply couldn’t outmatch the Jets’ powerhouse unit led by Mike White.

Because of a knee injury suffered the week prior, Zach Wilson was sidelined. Taking over would be White, a 26-year-old backup quarterback that had never started an NFL game before.

One week after picking apart their division-rival Ravens with a 41-17 win, the Bengals were the top-seeded team in the AFC entered MetLife Stadium with hopes of killing the Jets in the same fashion. By the start of the fourth quarter, things looked good for Cincinnati -perhaps a bit underwhelming, but they led by seven.

Nobody could’ve anticipated what happened next.

On their first drive of the fourth quarter, White and the Jets’ offense cut the lead to four with a field goal. Swiftly, Burrow and the Bengals drove down the field and crushed any Jets momentum with a Tyler Boyd touchdown that expanded the lead to 11 points.

To win, the Jets would need to score twice and stop a red-hot Bengals offense with 7:29 remaining.

“Well, at least they were competitive,” Jets fans likely muttered to themselves. “There’s no way Mike White could lead this comeback.”

Then, in under three minutes, White delivered with a 75-yard drive capped off with a Ty Johnson touchdown. They failed to convert on the two-point conversion, but they were now in a better spot. Down one score with three timeouts, the Jets were still in that thing.

And then, on the first play of the ensuing Bengals drive… interception! Defensive end Shaq Lawson (who has since been released by New York) jumped in front of a screen, tipped it to himself, and corraled it to give the Jets possession well into Bengals territory.

White and the offense quickly answered the bell with a touchdown, this time to Tyler Kroft. To go up three, the Jets went for two. This time, however, they converted with one of the team’s most memorable moments of the 2021 season – a White catch for the two points on a pass from Jamison Crowder.

All the defense had to do was stop Burrow one more time.

And it did.

The Jets’ offense got the ball back and ran the clock down to zeroes, taking victory formation to close it out.

It was a very satisfying win to say the least – even more so now that the Bengals are headed to the Super Bowl.

As entertaining as it was to watch, it might be even more exciting to think about how the Jets compare to the Bengals in terms of their rebuild.

This time two years ago, the Bengals were eliminated from the playoffs, preparing to pick first overall in the NFL draft. This time last year, the Jets were eliminated from the playoffs, preparing to pick second overall in the NFL draft.

That’s not all, though. The teams are pretty comparable. In essence, the Bengals have given the Jets a blueprint of sorts in terms of team-building.

Entering 2020, the Bengals had a rookie quarterback, a second-year head coach, and an incredibly young team. They didn’t accomplish a whole lot in 2020, but it set them on the right path heading into 2021.

Entering 2021, the Jets had a rookie quarterback, a first-year head coach, and an incredibly young team. They didn’t accomplish a whole lot in 2021, but it set them on the right path heading into 2022.

Do you see the similarities?

Now, it’s unreasonable to think the Jets can make it all the way to the Super Bowl the way the Bengals did this season, but with a good offseason, general manager Joe Douglas could have this team in playoff contention.

As stated by Jets X-Factor’s own David Wyatt-Hupton, there are a bunch of parallels you can draw between the 2021 Jets and 2020 Bengals. The Jets drafted a wide receiver in the second round of the NFL draft, acquired a big-name pass-rusher in free agency, and attempted to build their interior defensive line.

This offseason, it’s time to find Zach Wilson his game-changing wide receiver, and continue to build their young defense, particularly with linebackers and defensive backs.

Considering everything, the Bengals’ quick rise to the top should give Jets fans a lot of hope heading into 2022. If Joe Douglas plays his cards right who’s to say the Jets can’t be next year’s Bengals?

If they aren’t, though, and you need something to lean on to make you happy, just remember the 4-13 New York Jets beat the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals with their backup quarterback.

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