Bruce Coslet had seen it all before, only from the opposite sideline.
Esiason's offensive coordinator for the Bengals the past four seasons was Bruce Coslet.
"They have that No. 7, and he makes big plays," Coslet said, referring to Esiason. "Cincinnati is very lucky to have him."
Esiason hit James Brooks with a three-yard touchdown pass with 9:46 left and David Fulcher sacked New York's Ken O'Brien for a safety to get the Bengals close. Jim Breech kicked two field goals in the final 4:46.
O'Brien's desperation pass into the end zone with 24 seconds left was intercepted by Fulcher.
Coslet's defense had Esiason scrambling in the first half, when he completed six of 15 passes for 70 yards with an interception. In the second half, Esiason completed 11 of 15 passes for 132 yards.
The Bengals changed their terminology to confuse Coslet, but the Cincinnati offense ended up confused.
"I felt in the second half that we had to play better, and it had to start with the quarterback," Esiason said. "We were doing a lot of dummy calls at the line of scrimmage, and maybe I found myself thinking too much in the first half instead of playing.
"In the second half, I decided just to go out and play."
O'Brien completed 27 of 49 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns, both to Al Toon. The Bengals couldn't cover Toon, who caught eight balls for 118 yards, including touchdowns on plays of 46 and nine yards.
"Once we settled in, we played pretty well and controlled things," O'Brien said. "Then they had that great goal-line stand down there."
The Jets had first and goal at the one-yard line early in the fourth quarter, but lost three yards in three plays. They had to settle for Pat Leahy's 26-yard field goal, his second of the game, and a 20-10 lead with 13:43 remaining.
O'Brien was unable to move the Jets consistently thereafter. He was sacked four times the rest of the way, and his final pass--thrown under heavy pressure on fourth down from the Bengals' 33--was intercepted by Fulcher.