New York Jets Win MNF Thriller in ATL
Nobody thought the Jets stood a chance to complete at a high level this season. In fact, Pro Football Spot contributors dubbed the Jets a last place team, bar none. It was presumed that Gang Green would struggle to mount a pathetic total of two wins in 2013, courtesy of ill-informed fandom seemingly generated from an infamous highlight: the Butt Fumble.
The Jets surpassed PFS predictions in Week 5.
The so-called never-ending circus that consumed the Jets into complete travesty last season has been devoured into a different brand of football. The Jets are undoubtedly in the process of rebuilding, but this season’s version of the Green & White is vastly more dangerous than the Tebow-laden squad that managed to win just six games in 2012.
New York is a gritty, smash mouth football team that plays lights-out defense, a defining characteristic that was frequently on display against a high-octane air attack in Atlanta on Monday night.
The Jets’ defense entered Week 5 sporting a No. 3 ranking in overall defense. The main cause for the team’s wide scale inconsistency at the quarter mark was on the flip side.
Rookie quarterback Geno Smith coughed up the football at a wanna-be Mark Sanchez kind of rate. He racked up eight interceptions and three lost fumbles in four starts, causing an eager fan-base to begin the battle cry for backup QB Matt Simms.
The battle cry for fresh blood turned into a blissful chant Gun-slinging Geno on Monday night. Smith never committed a turnover.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg used a variety of complex formations to aid the Jets’ efficiency on offense and force some pressure off Smith against the Falcons, including the Pistol and Wildcat.
The Jets scored just three points on their opening possession after blocking a punt and gaining stellar starting field position, but would answer back.
The Falcons’ dormant pass rush allowed Smith to gain some comfort in the pocket in the early-going, but would wreak havoc on the Jets’ O-line in the second half. Atlanta entered the contest with a stagnant total of seven sacks, good enough to rank third to last in the NFL.
Smith would throw a dart to tight end Jeff Cumberland for a touchdown on a long third down attempt to help the Jets regain a three point edge after Atlanta put seven on the board to start the second quarter. He subsequently connected with the burly tight end for a big gain on the Jets’ next possession. Smith then tossed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerley, who was wide open in the right flat.
The Jets’ defense complemented a potent passing game with a goal-line stand to preserve a 17-7 halftime lead.
Smith enjoyed his best half as a pro under the bright lights on Monday night, completing eight of nine pass attempts for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
The Jets’ offense stalled in the third quarter, but was reignited by Gang Green’s first takeaway since Week 1. Stud defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson slapped the football out of Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan’s hands as Atlanta had a chance to recapture the lead. Rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson secured possession for the Jets inside Falcons’ territory, leading a field goal.
After another defensive stop, the Jets took advantage of a terrific punt return by Kerley, who was stripped to the turf on a horse collar tackle by Falcons’ punter Matt Bosher on the play. It was Bosher’s second tackle of the game, although the latter resulted in a 15-yard penalty.
Smith rekindled formerly established chemistry with veteran tight end Kellen Winslow on a rollout play at the Falcons’ one-yard line, connecting for his third touchdown pass of the game.
The Jets’ lead had grown to 13 points, despite being out-gained while facing a large time of possession deficit. Gang Green’s two-score lead didn’t last though.
The Falcons took advantage of a tired Jets’ defense on their next drive, pummeling the ball downfield in a no-huddle attack. A repeat effort late in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a temporary lead, but it wouldn’t be good enough.
Smith had ice pumping through his veins on the Jets’ game-winning drive, completing four passes for 37 yards. On the night, Smith connected on 16 of 20 pass attempts for 199 yards and three touchdowns. He recorded his third game-winning drive in five starts as a pro, but none was bigger than this.
“It took everyone of us and we played fearless,” exclaimed Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan after the game.
"Folk hero," proclaimed Ryan, in reference to the kicker's clutch game-winning field goal as time expired.
It was undoubtedly a team effort, but Smith led the Jets to a thrilling win on Monday Night Football, becoming just the second rookie QB in the history of the NFL to accomplish that feat on the road.
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