Bucs impressed with Geno's poise

September, 8, 2013
9/08/13
7:52
PM ET
Geno SmithRich Schultz /Getty ImagesSaid Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy about Geno Smith: "That guy has a bright future."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Gerald McCoy couldn't believe it.

After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive tackle delivered hit after hit on New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith, he expected to see the rookie break, to see Smith start fearing the bruising linemen coming after him.

Yet there was Smith, standing tall in the pocket and not backing down.

"I was sure when I was hitting him early on he would be rattled, but the guy just kept sitting in there. 'Man, how many more times I got to hit you?'" McCoy said. "He definitely stayed poised and made plays when necessary. He took a lot of big hits today. He always bounced back up and went and made plays. That guy has a bright future."

The Buccaneers were impressed with the steadiness Smith displayed on Sunday as he led the Jets to an 18-17 comeback win in the final seconds Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Bucs held the Jets to 304 yards, but Smith didn't wilt against a tough defense.

"He was very poised. He was on to the next [play]," Buccaneers linebacker Mason Foster said. "Anything happened, he kept pushing through, got his team up and down the field. Got to tip your hat to him for that. It's tough to do that in the NFL."

Smith entered Sunday's game with limited preseason work due to a rolled ankle and the Jets resting him in the fourth preseason game, and he didn't impress in his little playing time. He completed just 22 of 37 passes for 246 yards in two preseason games, with one touchdown and three interceptions.

The Buccaneers did a solid job containing Smith and the Jets' offense, holding them to just one touchdown, and registering five sacks and two turnovers.

In the second quarter, Foster's sack of Smith led to a fumble recovery at the Jets' 5-yard line, and Doug Martin scored on the next play to put Tampa Bay ahead, 14-5. Lavonte David then picked off Smith on the next drive with the Jets in Buccaneers' territory.

Smith won the battle with the Buccaneers' defense in the fourth as he led the Jets on two go-ahead drives. Smith engineered a 14-play, 65-yard drive for a field goal to put the Jets ahead 15-14 with 5:05 left, and he drove the Jets 50 yards in 32 seconds for the game-winning field goal.

That drive was aided by a late hit from David, who was flagged for a personal foul for shoving Smith after he was out of bounds, and the penalty put the Jets at Tampa Bay's 30 with seven seconds left.

"To me, he was in bounds. But I guess he was out of bounds and that's why they called the penalty," David said.

Had it not been for that penalty, the Buccaneers likely would be leaving New Jersey with a win. Instead, they head back to Florida 0-1 after a rookie beat them in his debut.

"I think he used his gifts," Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano said. "When under pressure, we made some errors as far as containing him and he used it, got away. He's got a big arm. He made some throws. He was under pressure. I think he did a good job."

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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