The Jets, even after an inspiring start, were in the process of starting to do Jets things.
The euphoria of a quick touchdown lead was suddenly sapped when backup quarterback Mike White threw a pass that bounced high off the hands of receiver Jamison Crowder and into the arms of Cincinnati safety Jesse Bates III.
Bates returned the pick 66 yards to the Jets’ 1-yard line, chased down by Elijah Moore.
With the defense having allowed a touchdown on opposing teams’ previous nine trips into the red zone, a Cincinnati score was inevitable.
Until it wasn’t.
First it was defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi stoning Bengals running back Joe Mixon for a 1-yard loss.
On second-and-goal from the 2, Mixon was pushed back another yard by rookie cornerback Michael Carter II.
On third-and-goal from the 3, rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who’s been one of the most prolific pass catchers in the league this season, dropped a Joe Burrow pass in the end zone.
On fourth-and-goal, Quinnen Williams sacked Burrow for a 12-yard loss and gave the ball back to the offense.
No harm, no foul.
It was early, but that goal-line stand was a linchpin to the Jets stirring 34-31 upset win over the Bengals on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
“Defense was awesome,’’ White said. “C.J. Mosley was the first one to greet me off the field [after the interception] and said, ‘We’re going to get you that ball back.’ And they did on one drive.’’
A week ago, while the Jets’ defense was being lit up for 54 points by the Patriots in New England, Mosley, their best defensive player, was sidelined with a hamstring injury and reduced to helplessly watching.
“It was very hard,’’ Mosley said. “Fortunately, in real life I haven’t been in a situation where I couldn’t help my brother in a fight. That’s probably the closest thing that felt like last week.
“You know the saying, ‘Every dog has its day?’ Last week, our defense definitely had our day. We watched that film on Monday, judged ourselves hard and we got to work. We needed to do that to get this win.’’
Mosley also seemed to understand exactly what White and the offense needed to hear after that interception.
“Guys had their heads down as they were walking off and that’s not the mindset you want to have,’’ Mosley said. “You turn over the ball or give up a big play, it’s got to be ‘next play, next play.’ You can’t dwell on what just happened because you’ll make more mistakes.
“Our defensive mindset when you get to the goal line is you defend every blade of grass.’’
They did, and in the process, electrified the MetLife Stadium crowd, which grew louder and more animated with each of those stops on the goal line.
“That was a big momentum change for us,’’ Mosely said.
“It’s not our first goal-line stand and it won’t be our last goal-line stand,’’ coach Robert Saleh said. “It was a great momentum builder.’’
The Jets looked like a different defense with Mosley, their leader, manning the middle again.
“We put this formula on tape,’’ Mosley said. “We’ve got to make sure we take this momentum and ride this wave. We have everything we need in this locker room. We believe in ourselves. Great win. I can’t tell you how the season’s going to end or how the season’s going to go, but if we keep this mentality and play the kind of complementary football we’re going to have a lot more wins.’’