Thomas Jones ran for two touchdowns, including a 1-yarder late in the game, and caught a pass from Favre for a score to lead the Jets to a 26-14 victory Sunday.
"It wasn't our best performance on offense, but it was a win," Favre said. "We did some good things. ... Thomas Jones, he had one of those days."
The Jets (3-2) improved to 3-0 in games immediately following a bye under coach Eric Mangini, but this one was far from easy. With New York holding a tentative 20-14 lead, the Jets needed a 10-play, 41-yard drive by Favre that ate up the clock to seal the victory against the Bengals (0-6).
"I don't believe in ugly wins," Favre said. "I believe a win's win. That one felt as good as any win I've been a part of in recent memory."
"Oh-and-anything stings," linebacker Dhani Jones said. "We just want to get the bad taste out of our mouths. Oh-and-6 is not a position anybody wants to be in."
The Bengals gained only 43 yards rushing on 21 carries, with Fitzpatrick's 23 leading the way.
"Everyone will say that with a backup in there, we need to run the ball better. We will," said Fitzpatrick, making his second start in three games with Palmer resting a sore right elbow. "It was a struggle out there today. We have to go back to the drawing board and figure it out."
Despite their struggles, the Bengals were still in it late. The Jets had a third-and-4 from the Bengals 7 when Favre hit Chris Baker for 6 yards. Jones followed with a 1-yard rumble into the end zone with 2:22 left and the 2-point try fell incomplete to make it a 12-point game.
Favre, coming off a six-touchdown performance in a 56-35 victory against Arizona, wasn't nearly as explosive in this one. He finished 25-for-33 for 189 yards -- throwing mostly short passes -- a touchdown and two interceptions.
"I'm not here for stats," Favre said. "I'm here for wins."
Jones finished with 17 carries for 65 yards and had his first career three-TD game for the Jets, wearing their navy and gold throwback New York Titans uniforms for the second successive game.
"Last (game), we threw the ball really well and scored a lot of points and today wasn't that exact same situation," Jones said. "We had to kind of grind it out a little more. The good thing is we're able to do both."
Cincinnati took a 7-0 lead on the third play from scrimmage, when Antwan Odom sacked Favre and forced a fumble. Chinedum Ndukwe picked it up and ran 15 yards into the end zone to give the Bengals the lead 1:24 into the game.
It didn't last long as New York tied it with a 2-yard touchdown reception by Jones.
"The whole point is to be out there with the ball in your hands," said Jones, who had two TDs all of last season. "It always feel good to get touchdowns, get into the end zone and contribute to the team winning."
The score capped a strange drive during which Favre had thrown two other touchdown passes that were called back by penalties.
Favre tossed a pass to Dustin Keller in the end zone on third-and-goal from the 4, but right guard Brandon Moore was called for being an ineligible man downfield. On the next play from the 9, Favre hit Jerricho Cotchery in the end zone, but the play was called back because of offensive pass interference by Chansi Stuckey.
"We're not going to throw six touchdown passes every week," Favre said with a smile. "We might throw three on one drive, which was different, but we've got to be able to win games like that."
After Jay Feely gave the Jets a 10-7 lead with a 38-yard field goal early in the second quarter, New York took advantage of a costly mistake by Fitzpatrick. The Bengals quarterback fumbled when he was sacked by Hank Poteat, and Calvin Pace recovered the ball. Two plays later, Jones ran it into the end zone from 7 yards.
Fitzpatrick's 1-yard run made it 17-14 with 8 seconds left before halftime. Feely added a 43-yarder in the third quarter to put the Jets ahead 20-14.
"We've got to do better," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "It's not good enough."
- The Jets won the battle of field position, too, with their average start at their own 46, while the Bengals' average start was their 20.
- Cotchery and Laveranues Coles each had eight catches for the Jets, while T.J. Houshmandzadeh had seven and Chad Ocho Cinco five for the Bengals.
- Cincinnati cornerback Jamar Fletcher and safety Herana-Daze Jones injured hamstrings in the first half and didn't return.