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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Mike White threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns in his first NFL start, caught a 2-point conversion pass on the go-ahead score and had the fans chanting his name while leading the New York Jets to a wild 34-31 comeback victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
White, starting in place of injured rookie Zach Wilson, pulled off an improbable victory for the Jets (2-5) while going 37 of 45 — setting an NFL record for the most completions in a player's first start. He joined Cam Newton (2011) as the only players since at least 1950 to throw for 400 or more yards in their first career start.
White overcame two early interceptions and also became the Jets' first 400-yard passer since Vinny Testaverde on Christmas 2000, a span of 327 games. And he even left for a few plays with a neck injury.
With the Bengals (5-3) leading 31-20 in the fourth quarter, the Jets got an acrobatic touchdown by Ty Johnson, who took a short pass from White and tip-toed down the left sideline and reached over the goal line for a 19-yard score. It was initially ruled Johnson stepped out at the 2, but video review overturned the call and confirmed the touchdown.
White’s 2-point conversion pass to Keelan Cole was incomplete and New York trailed 31-26 with 4:36 left.
Shaq Lawson then came up with the Jets’ first interception of the season, deflecting Joe Burrow’s pass and snagging it to give New York the ball at the Bengals 14.
After a 1-yard run by Michael Carter, White found a wide-open Tyler Kroft in the back of the end zone to give New York a one-point lead. The Jets went for the 2-point conversion and turned to some trickery with the Jets’ twist on the Eagles' “Philly Special.” Jamison Crowder tossed it to a wide-open White in the end zone to make it 34-31 with 3:45 left.
It all had the fans at a half-filled MetLife Stadium loudly chanting: “Mike! White!”
The Jets forced the Bengals to punt on fourth-and-19 from the 40. Cincinnati never got the ball back. On third-and-11, Johnson was stopped for no gain on a catch but Mike Hilton was called for unnecessary roughness. That gave New York the first down, and White was took a knee in victory formation moments later.
After becoming the the first team to go scoreless in the opening period in its first six games since the 2008 Detroit Lions, the Jets scored on their first drive on Carter's 8-yard touchdown run.
With offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur in the booth instead of on the sideline, the Jets won the coin toss and coach Robert Saleh chose to take the ball for the first time rather than defer.
Carter finished with nine catches for 95 yards and ran for 77 yards and a TD on 15 carries.
BENGALS ROAR BACK
Cincinnati took a 14-7 lead with 3:21 left in the first half on Burrow's 2-yard touchdown pass to Chase, the rookie's seventh TD catch of the season.
The Jets turned the ball over again two plays later when Vonn Bell knocked the ball out of Crowder's hands and recovered the fumble.
The Bengals immediately got down to the Jets 7 when Burrow flipped to Tyler Boyd, whose throw to Mixon went for 46 yards. New York kept Cincinnati out of the end zone, but Evan McPherson's 21-yard field goal made it 17-7.
WHAT AN (ALMOST) CATCH
Cole had the most jaw-dropping non-catch of the season on the Jets' next drive. On first-and-10 from the 12, White lofted a pass into the end zone for Cole, who stuck out his right hand to catch the ball and pinned it between his legs as he fell backwards for what appeared to be a wild touchdown grab. It was reminiscent of Odell Beckham's now infamous one-handed grab on this same field while with the Giants in 2015.
But a video review overturned the score, with officials saying Cole didn't maintain possession — setting off loud boos on Halloween from the Jets fans.
New York came right back two plays later as Braxton Berrios snagged a pass from White, dragged his feet in the end zone leaving no question as to whether it was a catch and cut the Jets' deficit to 17-14 with 15 seconds left in the first half.
SHAKING IT OFF
White was hurt when he was slammed from behind by Cam Sample, resulting in a roughing the passer penalty. White’s head slammed into left tackle Chuma Edoga, and the quarterback remained on his back for several minutes before he jogged off the field to the medical tent.
Josh Johnson, who hadn't thrown a pass in the NFL since 2018 with Washington, came in and nearly had a touchdown toss. But his throw into the end zone on third down couldn't be handled by Denzel Mims. Matt Ammendola's 24-yarder tied it at 17. White returned on the next possession.
Bengals: Rookie RG Jackson Carman was carted off in the fourth quarter with an injury.
Jets: LT George Fant was carted off with an ankle injury late in the second quarter and didn't return. He was replaced by Chuma Edoga. ... WR Denzel Mims left in the third quarter with a finger injury.
Bengals: Host the AFC North-rival Cleveland Browns next Sunday.
Jets: Have a quick turnaround and play the Colts in Indianapolis on Thursday night.
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Dennis Waszak Jr., The Associated Press