The Cincinnati Bengals earned their first win of the season Sunday afternoon, when Andy Dalton returned to the starting lineup and threw for 243 yards and one touchdown in a 22-6 victory over the visiting New York Jets.
The win ended the longest season-opening losing streak in franchise history for the Bengals (1-11) and ensured they would not join the 2008 Detroit Lions and 2017 Cleveland Browns as the only teams to go winless over a 16-game season.
It was also the first win for first-year head coach Zac Taylor, who received a Gatorade shower in the final minute.
The Jets (4-8) not only had a three-game winning streak snapped but also made the wrong kind of history Sunday, when they became the first NFL team to lose twice to teams that were 0-7 or worse entering the game. The Miami Dolphins were 0-7 before beating New York, 26-18, on Nov. 3.
Dalton finished 22 of 37 for 243 yards and a touchdown. Auden Tate had four catches for a team-high 66 yards.
The Jets scored first on a 42-yard field goal by Sam Ficken with 9:08 left in the first quarter, but the Bengals took control soon after. Cincinnati collected four sacks — including three by defensive end Carlos Dunlap — and never allowed New York to enter the red zone.
Dalton, who sat the previous three games in favor of rookie Ryan Finley, put the Bengals ahead for good with his 17-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd with 1:12 remaining in the first quarter. Randy Bullock’s first field goal, a 24-yarder, extended the Bengals’ lead to 10-3 a little less than six minutes into the second quarter.
Joe Mixon rushed for a 5-yard touchdown with 1:46 left to give Cincinnati its first double-digit lead of the season before Ficken booted a 39-yard field goal just before time expired in the half.
The Bengals collected their first safety since the 2006 season when Jets offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum was whistled for holding in the end zone with 5:46 left in the third to make the 19-6. Bullock kicked a 47-yard field goal with 1:15 remaining in the period.
Jets quarterback Sam Darnold was 28 of 48 for 239 yards. Robby Anderson collected seven catches for 101 yards.
The loss marked the second time the Jets have lost to a team that entered 0-10 or worse. The New Orleans Saints were 0-14 before earning their only win of the 1980 season by edging New York 21-20 on Dec. 14.