Jets defeat Bucs 18-17 in Geno Smith's debut

Geno leads Gang Green to an improbable win in opener

9/9/13 in NFL   |   jakeryanbrown   |   28 respect

Sep 8, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) leaves the field after the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium. The Jets won 18-17. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY SportsBy no means was it pretty, but Sunday afternoon the Jets left MetLife Stadium with one of the more improbable victories in recent memory.  Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith wasn't great, but he was good enough to get the Jets in the winning column.  He can thank Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David for a penalty that had head coach Greg Schiano pulling his hair out.  David ignorantly hit Smith late when he scrambled out of bounds at the Bucs 45, and the 15 yard penalty set the Jets up for a 47-yard field goal to win the game.  It's a late hit that is inexcusable for the second-year defender that handed the Jets a victory to start the season.  

The penalty was embarrassing and costly, but let's show the New York Jets some love for once.  They got the job done and came out with a victory when almost nobody in the world picked them to upset the Bucs. Well, I picked them to win on a last-second field goal, which is exactly what they did.  The Jets rookie QB got the job done and actually outplayed Josh Freeman, who looked awful Sunday.  Geno had 34 seconds to lead the Jets to a field goal with no timeouts.  A rookie in his first start was asked to lead his team down the field and get into field goal range.  He started at the 20 and completed a 25-yard pass to tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. that got the Jets to the 45.  He would then scramble for ten yards to the Bucs 45 and then the penalty set up Nick Folk for the field goal.  Smith told his team that they could still win the game and he showed the confidence of a seasoned veteran, not a guy who learned days prior that he would start the opener.  

What Geno Smith did was something that Mark Sanchez could never do.  He believed.  He didn't fear coming from behind.  Sure, he made a couple of mistakes, including an interception and a fumble deep in his own territory, but he wasn't going to let that bring him down.  There were several occasions where Smith decided to not risk throwing a ball anywhere near former Jet Darrelle Revis or the rest of the Bucs secondary.  If nobody was open, Smith threw it away or he used his legs to pick up yards, which is something that the Jets NEVER got from Sanchez.  

It's only one game and the Jets will likely get a beatdown in Foxboro Thursday, but Sunday at the Meadowlands, the excitement in the stadium was more than it has been in years.  The place was rocking.  Fans celebrated like they just won the Super Bowl.  It's going to take baby steps for this Jets team, but Sunday they got to see the future.  They saw a terrific young defense shut down a pretty good Bucs offense.  They saw a pass rush that hasn't been seen in three years.  They saw a quarterback that was resilient and able to make plays when they needed it most.  Sunday was the first step in the Jets rebuilding process and for the first time in a long time, Rex Ryan's crew took over the headlines for all the right reasons.  

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