- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With a chance to claim the starting job, rookie QB Geno Smith suffered a three-interception implosion in the New York Jets' 24-21 overtime win over the Giants on Saturday night at MetLife Stadium. The Jets were dreadful, committing five turnovers. A bad night turned worse when Sanchez hurt his right shoulder in the fourth quarter on a vicious hit by defensive tackle Marvin Austin. Sanchez shouldn't have been in the game. No one can mess up the quarterback position better than the Jets.
What it means: The Jets, especially upper management, wanted Smith to seize his opportunity, but they have no choice but to name Sanchez the opening-day starter -- if he's healthy. It would be a setback for GM John Idzik, who drafted Smith in the second round with the hope that he'd unseat the turnover-prone Sanchez. It may happen eventually, but not now. Unless ...
Uh, oh, Geno: Smith, in his first extended action, threw three interceptions in a span of 12 attempts. In each case, he made a different mistake. The first interception (Prince Amukamara) was an inaccurate pass; he threw behind Ryan Spadola on a crossing route. The second interception (Stevie Brown) was a poor decision, an under-pressure overthrow to Kellen Winslow. The third interception (Justin Tuck) was a bad read. Smith failed to read a zone blitz by Tuck, who dropped into coverage on Jeff Cumberland. Smith never saw him and forced the ball to his tight end. His night ended with a terrible mental mistake, as he took a safety by stepping out of the back of the end zone while trying to avoid pressure.
Smith (16-for-30, 199 yards) showed his lack of experience at every turn, but this was to be expected. After all, he entered the game having played only 14 snaps in the preseason. The Jets forced the issue, hoping to anoint Smith, but the strategy backfired. Instead of using the third preseason game to build chemistry with the starting unit, still learning Marty Mornhinweg's offense, they wasted prime reps on a quarterback not ready for the bright lights.
Rookie game plan: The coaching staff gave Smith every opportunity to succeed, drawing up a relatively conservative game plan. He threw mostly underneath, including a few screen passes. The plan was for him to throw quickly, but that backfired on the first series, when two balls were deflected at the line of scrimmage. Smith regrouped, leading an eight-play, 86-yard touchdown drive. He was 4-for-5 for 41 yards on the drive, including a 22-yard scoring pass to Ben Obomanu. Smith played better in the second half when given a chance to throw off play-action. He led a 57-yard touchdown drive, but it came against the Giants' backups.
Classic Sanchez: He replaced Smith in the fourth quarter and -- shocker! -- fumbled a shotgun snap. He was booed by the crowd. After the injury, Sanchez was replaced by Matt Simms, who rallied the Jets to a touchdown with two minutes left.
Sanchez fans?: Smith didn't get much help from his receivers. He was victimized by three drops -- Bilal Powell, Jeremy Kerley and Obomanu. Hill contributed to the ugliness with a fumble, which came shortly after an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. Hill needs to mature, quickly. The drop-fest was reminiscent of minicamp, when Rex Ryan was infuriated by the number of dropped passes. The only highlight was a 32-yard grab by Stephen Hill. The good news? Santonio Holmes, activated Friday to the active roster, looks ready to return. In the pregame warmups, Holmes ran full speed, cutting hard on his surgically repaired foot as he ran routes for QB Greg McElroy.
Injury concerns: Several players left with undisclosed injuries, including CB Antonio Cromartie, DT Sheldon Richardson, LG Vladimir Ducasse and WR Clyde Gates. Cromartie may have suffered from leg cramps, which plagued him last week in practice.
Big night for big fellas: It was a nice performance for the Jets' defensive line, namely Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison and Richardson. They got good pressure on Eli Manning, exploiting the Giants' patchwork offensive line. This was Richardson's best game by far, as he showed his athleticism on quick penetrations. The Jets could be a line-reliant defense this season because the secondary, a strength in recent years, struggled again. CB Kyle Wilson, who started for injured rookie Dee Milliner, was called for three pass-interference penalties. S Antonio Allen took a bad angle on the first play from scrimmage, springing David Wilson for an 84-yard TD run.
What's ahead: The Jets close the preseason Thursday night against the Eagles at MetLife Stadium.