New York Jets: 18 (1-0)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 17 (0-1)
In Geno Smith’s first career NFL start, he and the New York Jets pulled out a last second victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Down by 2 points with 38 seconds left, Geno Smith started the final drive of the game from the Jets’ 20 yard line with no timeouts remaining. After an incompletion on a short throw intended for Kellen Winslow, Geno Smith completed a 25 yard pass to TE Kellen Winslow. After a quick spike, Geno Smith scrambled out of the pocket for a 10 yard gain, bringing the Jets to the Buccaneers’ 45 yard line. However, Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David had a late hit after Geno Smith ran out of bounds, which resulted in a 15 yard penalty. Even more importantly, it put the Jets in field goal range. Nick Folk then connected on a go-ahead 48-yard field goal, giving the Jets a 1 point lead and eventually a win over Tampa Bay (the game became final after Nick Folk squib kicked the following kickoff).
However, there is much more to this game then just the final drive.
After a nice defensive stop on the first drive of the game, Geno Smith completed his first career pass to Jeremy Kerley for a 26 yard gain. Unfortunately, aside from that one completion the Jets’ offense struggled majorly in the 1st quarter. In the first 3 drives of the game for the Jets, they took 10 offensive snaps and had 2 three-and-outs. Thankfully for the Jets, on their next drive their offense finally began to click. Geno Smith led the New York Jets down the field, and after 13 plays Nick Folk made a 43-yard field goal to get the Jets on the board. On the drive, Geno Smith accounted for 50 total yards both running and passing.
On the next two drives, however, the Jets’ offense was nowhere near as prolific as before. On the first play of the next drive, Geno Smith was sacked and fumbled the ball, and Tampa Bay recovered inside the 10-yard line and immediately scored a touchdown off a Doug Martin rush. On the Jets’ next series, the offense took two major blows. First, TE Jeff Cumberland was sent to the locker room with a head injury off an absolutely cruel and vicious hit from safety Dashon Goldson. The severity of the injury is still unknown, although it certainly did not look good. And just as bad, two plays later Geno Smith through an ugly interception to Lavonte David.
Soon after, Dawan Landry came up with an interception for the Jets and Geno Smith retook the field down 14-5. And all of a sudden, something happened to Geno Smith and he began to play like someone worthy of being the second quarterback taken in the NFL Draft. On the drive, Geno Smith completed 5 of 6 passes for 33 yards and a touchdown to Kellen Winslow.
That touchdown wasn’t the only highlight of the day for Kellen Winslow. The former Buccaneer, who was criticized for saying he is capable of a 100-catch season, finished the day with 7 catches, 78 yards, and touchdown, leading Jets’ pass catchers in all categories. Winslow was clearly Geno’s favorite target, and he may develop into a huge player for the Jets, especially with the injury to Cumberland.
Even more impressive than Kellen Winslow’s performance was that of the Jets’ defense. Gang Green held the Buccaneers to just 250 yards of total offense, a truly overwhelming statistic. As for Pro Bowl tail back Doug Martin, he was held to just 65 yards on 24 carries, and finished with an abysmal 2.7 yards per carry. And aside from Vincent Jackson, the Jets held the Buccaneers receivers and backs to just 56 receiving yards! If Cromartie could have been able to cover Vincent Jackson decently, then the Jets defense would have been absolutely unstoppable. Also, the Jets pass rush also showed off its swagger, sacking Josh Freeman three times, once by Antwan Barnes, once by Muhammad Wilkerson, and once by a combined effort from Calvin Pace and rookie Sheldon Richardson. Also, the Jets’ defense caught a break early in the game off a bad snap which resulted in a safety. All in all, the defense for the Jets had a phenomenal game and their performance should not be overlooked.
After a poor offensive 3rd quarter for both teams, the fourth quarter began with the Jets still trailing 14-12. After a quick punt by the Buccaneers, the Jets began their next possession from their own 23 yard line. Geno Smith excelled on the drive, completing nearly all his passes for 47 yards. After Bilal Powell failed to pick up the first down on 3rd and 8 after a short reception, Nick Folk made his second field goal of the game from 30 yards away, giving the Jets a 15-14 lead, their first lead of the game since they went up 2-0 early in the game.
After back to back punts from each team, the Buccaneers regained possession of the football at their own 20 yard line with 2:14 remaining in the game. And later in the drive, Josh Freeman connected with Vincent Jackson, who was lined up in the slot. After catching the ball around 10 yards in front of the line of scrimmage, Dawan Landry let Jackson slip away from his attempted tackle, and after that Jackson ran for another 27 yards before Demario Davis brought him down. After forcing the Jets to use all their timeouts, Ryan Lindell made a 37 yard field to put the Buccaneers up 17-15 with 34 seconds left.
And after that, well, you know.
Geno Smith was able to squeak out a victory in his first career start, although the majority of the credit has to go to Lavonte David’s lack of discipline. However, a win is still a win and the Jets will look to keep their momentum going on Thursday night against their division rival, the New England Patriots.