What an ending! Nick Folk splits the uprights from 48 yards away to give rookie-starter Geno Smith his first NFL win, 18-17 over the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We saw how the Jets got into position to score the game-winning field goal (a timely scramble by Geno Smith, plus fifteen yards thanks to a late hit out of bounds), but let’s take a look at how the Jets kept themselves in position to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat!
If you were watching the start of the Jets and Bucs game, and had no clue which team was which, you would’ve assumed the Jets had the 5th-year QB and the Bucs were being led by a QB making his first career start. On their first drive, Tampa Bay looked unprepared to make a ham sandwich, much less run their offense from the line of scrimmage. Knowing what I know about HC Greg Schiano, he’ll be as chapped about that as he is the final score. In a game you lose by one point, you replay every mistake in your mind to see what you could’ve done better. To know you may have lost this game by the way you started… that would burn any head coach, or player.
Don’t get me wrong, The New York Jets didn’t start like a well-oiled machine (punting on their first three possessions), but got their motor running to start the second quarter. On the team’s first offensive-scoring drive, Geno went 2-4 for 24 yards and led the team to three points as Nick Folk nailed a 43 yard field goal. The next time he touched the ball, he would fumble on his five yard line while avoiding pressure. The Bucs would punch it into the endzone, and put the Jets behind the eight ball early 14-5.
I wanted to see how Geno would come back from the fumble, if he had what it took to shake it off and drive his football team down the field. He looked in command of things, until his second turnover (this time an interception) stalled another drive. No time to hang his head on this turnover either, as Dawan Landry plucks an errant Freeman pass while playing centerfield, and brings it back 38 yards. On both turnovers, the Jets regained possession relatively quickly, which allowed for Geno to get right back on the field and get something positive done for his football team. After Landry’s pick and runback gave the Jets a short field, Geno connects with Kellen Winslow Jr for a seven-yard touchdown! Both teams hit the locker room, the Bucs clinging to a 14-12 lead.
Geno wasn’t outstanding, but he played well enough and kept his team close enough to take advantage of a terrible mistake by the opponent, and squeak out a win. Geno went 24-38 for 256 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also led the team in rushing (6-47yds). The Jets need to get more from the RBs, they can’t put it all on the rookie. Bilal Powell goes 12-29yds and Chris Ivory goes 10-15yds, that’s not going to cut it against a quality NFL team. Contrary to popular opinion, I like the Jets using the wildcat with Geno as the starter: It gets the ball out of the rookie’s hands for a play or two, especially during a long drive. Giving Geno a mental and physical breather while on the field proved to be a good formula against the Bucs, and I’d like to see that trend continue. Geno’s been named the starter against the Patriots this Thursday, so be prepared to see a handful of wildcat plays.
Jeff Cumberland suffering a gash to his face early in the game shifted Winslow to the number one TE and Konrad Reuland into Winslow’s spot. Winslow thrived with the extra targets, going 7-79yds and catching that second quarter touchdown. Santonio Holmes gets the start, makes one catch, but his value was in keeping Darrelle Revis away from Stephen Hill, Clyde Gates or Jeremy Kelrey.
I can’t say enough about Gang Green’s defense and players like Demario Davis (3 tackles) and Mo Wilkerson (1 sack)!! It was good to see Kenrick Ellis (1 tackle) on the field after a bad back limited him in the preseason. Damon Harrison and Antonio Allen led the team with four tackles, while both David Harris and Jaiquawn Jarrett forced fumbles. Effective pressure on a shaky QB and a stiff run defense produced the desired result… a win for New York Jets! Next stop: New England!!
-Joseph Haas Editor, HCoftheNYJ.com