- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Santonio Holmes, Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow didn't play, and Jeremy Kerley left in the second quarter with a potentially serious elbow injury. It left Geno Smith with a bunch of no-name guys: Greg Salas. Zach Sudfeld. David Nelson. Throw in part-time wide receiver Josh Cribbs, and you're talking about four guys who weren't on the New York Jets' roster at the start of the season.
That's what you call a patchwork receiving corps. Those four players combined for seven of the Jets' nine receptions in the 26-20 upset of the New Orleans Saints Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
"I've seen veteran quarterbacks struggle with new faces and new pieces," Nelson said. "The fact that we have a rookie quarterback, four new guys lined up at the line of scrimmage and he's okay with it ... it says everything about who he is and what he can become."
Smith (8-for-19, 115 yards) struggled, but he didn't commit any turnovers and he was sacked only twice. He didn't win the game, but he didn't lose it, either. Still, it was impressive that the Jets were able to function with so many new parts. Salas, who made his Jets debut, became their 29th offensive player to see the field this season.
Rex Ryan credited offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
"I think it's clear that he should be the offensive assistant coach of the year," Ryan said, inventing an award. "That's obvious. The job that he and his staff have done is tremendous. They've found ways. He's not looking for excuses. 'Well, we don't have this, we don't have Holmes, we don't have this guy, we don't have Cumberland.' He just finds a way. Not one time did he ever flinch -- ever -- and we run the ball for 198 yards on 36 carries."
The Anonymous Four contributed in a variety of ways. Salas made a 44-yard reception. Sudfeld caught two passes for 46 yards. Cribbs caught two passes and, working out of the Wildcat, threw a 25-yard pass. Nelson caught a 19-yard pass.
"When you have guys come off the street, like myself, you have a lot to prove," Cribbs said. "When you have hungry guys that want to play, that's what you call playing like a Jet."