CINCINNATI -- One playoff game into his career, Mark Sanchez is giving a pretty good off-Broadway performance.
So are the rest of the New York Jets, who are no longer an overlooked team after dismantling the AFC North champions twice within a week.
Any more doubters?
"It's pretty special," Sanchez said. "It's got nothing to do with me."
Playing in single-digit wind chills against a defense that tried its best to put the game in his hands, Sanchez went 12 of 15 for 182 yards and a stratospheric passer rating of 139.4.
"He had the eye of the tiger today and he was ready to get out there and throw it around," coach Rex Ryan said. "I see him getting better and better each day on the practice field. What a job he's done. I think he's tired of hearing he's the weak link on this football team."
Cedric Benson ran for a Bengals-record 169 yards in a playoff game, but Cincinnati managed little else. Its streak without a playoff win reached 19 years and counting.
» The Jets became the first team with a rushing TD by a rookie and a passing TD by a rookie in the same playoff game since 1934.
» The Jets have won six of their last seven games and four straight on the road, including the playoffs.
» The Jets have not committed a turnover in their last three games.
» The Bengals have lost their last three playoff games; They have not won a playoff game since the 1990 wild card game vs. the Houston Oilers (longest active playoff win drought in NFL).
"They might have a chance to make a move," said Palmer, who was off-target and under pressure most of the game. "Their defense is that good."
Take Palmer's word for that.
"This was a great team effort," said Ryan, who won in his playoff debut as a head coach. "We're a good football team. If people don't believe that, they soon will."
Sanchez looked like a playoff pro, joining Shaun King, Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger as rookie quarterbacks to win postseason starts. At times, Sanchez found himself on the sideline soaking it all in.
"It just blows your mind," he said. "It's unbelievable. I hope I have this feeling next week."
Sanchez was by far the lowest-ranked passer in the playoffs, throwing 20 interceptions in his rookie season -- second-most in the league. The Bengals wanted to put the game in his hands. Playing without a glove on his passing hand in an 8-degree wind chill, the kid from Southern California handled it without a bobble.
Afterward, the team presented a game ball to owner Woody Johnson, whose daughter, Casey, was found dead in her Los Angeles home on Monday. Johnson's eyes were red as he left the locker room.
The Jets also had a scare at the outset when punter Steve Weatherford was ruled out because of dizziness and an elevated heartbeat. Kicker Jay Feely punted for the first time in his NFL career, averaging 31 yards on seven kicks. He also made a 20-yard field goal with 5:47 to go that put Cincinnati too far behind.
"I was so happy that I was kicking a field goal (then) instead of punting," Feely said. "That was great."
The Jets pulled ahead 14-7 by halftime with two big plays off Sanchez's hand. He faked a handoff and made a perfect pitchout to Greene, who needed only one block to find open space for a 39-yard touchdown run, the longest of his career.
In the second quarter, Sanchez caught the Bengals off-guard. He rolled to his right and found tight end Dustin Keller running uncovered beyond the secondary. The throw was perfect, and Keller kept his balance for the last 15 yards while safety Chinedum Ndukwe vainly tried to knock him out of bounds.
At halftime, Sanchez was 7 of 10 for 94 yards with a passer rating of 132.9. It could have been even better -- Braylon Edwards let a pass slip through his hands in the end zone.
Sanchez led an eight-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in Thomas Jones' 9-yard run for a 21-7 lead late in the third quarter. Benson broke a 47-yard touchdown run -- the longest in Bengals playoff history -- that got Cincinnati within a touchdown, but Sanchez and Greene turned it on again.
Notes: Greene was the third rookie since 2000 to rush for 100 yards in a playoff game. ... Feely had one punt in college and didn't punt in high school. ... Bengals LB Rashad Jeanty broke his left leg on the opening kickoff. ... Bengals WRs Laveranues Coles (thumb) and Andre Caldwell (ankle) suffered injuries in the second quarter, but returned in the second half. ... Palmer said he'll have surgery on his left (non-throwing) thumb, which he injured in the fifth game of the season. He wore a removable brace for the rest of the season.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press