Rookie Geno Smith leads the NFL in game-winning, fourth-quarter drives. He has three for the Jets this season.
1. Broadway Geno: This is what makes the NFL so compelling: A week ago, Geno Smith was a turnover-prone rookie, hearing whispers about his job security. Now he's Mr. Clutch, delivering one of the Jets' best two-minute drives in years to stun the Falcons. Years from now, this could be remembered as a turning point in his career. For now, he should savor the moment. Consider: He became the first rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl era to compile this trifecta on the road -- 80 percent completion rate, three touchdowns and zero interceptions, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Oh, by the way, he leads the NFL in game-winning, fourth-quarter drives -- three. How meaningful is that? Prior to this season, it happened only twice in Jets history by a rookie quarterback. One word: Wow.
2. Three-headed monster: Asked about the wide receiver injuries last week, Rex Ryan joked that maybe they should play the wishbone. Was he really joking? On a few plays, they actually used two halfbacks and a fullback in a pistol set -- Bilal Powell, Chris Ivory and Tommy Bohanon, respectively. In fact, they opened the game in that formation. Overall, the Jets averaged 5.4 yards per carry and used their personnel to the max. They had their full complement of backs for the first time, with Ivory (healthy) and Mike Goodson (suspension served) joining Powell. Ivory and Goodson combined for only eight touches, but the workload included 19- and 26-yard runs, respectively. David Lee's fingerprints were on the game plan. He's a former college coach who helped bring the Wildcat to the NFL. The Jets ran five plays for 33 yards out of the Wildcat. The emphasis on the backs, as well as the tight ends, was designed to exploit the Falcons' patchwork linebacker corps.
3. Don't say the words: There might not be a phrase in the English language that Rex Ryan despises more than "bend but don't break." As an aggressive defensive coach, that philosophy simply isn't in his DNA -- but it sure looked that way in this game. The Jets allowed 363 total yards, didn't put up much of a fight on third down (6-for-12) and let the Falcons control the ball on four drives of at least 10 plays. If you didn't know better, you might have thought the strategy was to play soft between the 20s and crank up the pressure in the red zone -- where the Falcons had been struggling. If that was the plan, it didn't work, as the Falcons scored touchdowns on four of five trips to the red zone. In the past two games, the Jets' once-formidable red zone defense has slacked off, as opponents have converted seven of nine visits for touchdowns.
4. The tough guys won: Overshadowed in the pregame hype, which focused on Falcons QB Matt Ryan and his weapons, was the Jets' superiority on both lines. It played out that way, as they dominated in the trenches. The Falcons ran up some pretty offensive numbers, dinking and dunking and claiming an 11-minute advantage in possession time, but they got pushed around up front. Coach Mike Smith, perhaps trying to convince his players they could outmuscle the Jets, took that fourth-and-1 gamble at the end of the first half, passing up three easy points -- the difference in the game. The Jets were forced to play a near-perfect game, but they did, thanks to Smith and PK Nick Folk (3-for-3).