- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Geno Smith has played only two turnover-free games. He desperately wanted to make Sunday the third.
"I feel as though I let Rex [Ryan] down today, man," he said. "He talked to me about not having a turnover, playing a game without a turnover. On one occasion, I got sloppy with it and forced it, and I just didn't get it done, man."
Smith's big mistake came with 8:17 remaining in the game, the Jets trailing 23-13. He forced a pass into the teeth of a Cover 2 zone, targeting Santonio Holmes. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn made the interception and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown. It was Smith's fifth pick-six, tying Joe Namath's mark (1967) for the most in a single season in Jets history.
"Bad throw," Smith said. "Forced it. Should have checked the ball down."
Holmes took no responsibility.
"I did what he wanted me to do," he said of Smith. "I tried to get open and tried to make a play for the team."
Smith completed 15 of 28 passes for 167 yards, including a late touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland.
How to mess up a screen pass: The Jets continued their alarming trend of allowing big plays. This time, the killer came on a screen pass to DeAngelo Williams, who bolted 72 yards for a touchdown. The Jets have allowed eight plays of 50 yards or longer.
This one was a well-designed play. Cam Newton faked a screen left, drawing safety Ed Reed out of position. He went right with the screen. Williams outraced linebacker David Harris, who appeared to be responsible for the man-to-man coverage. Reed arrived late and took a bad angle. Cornerback Dee Milliner couldn't get off a downfield block.
"The screen pass, obviously, was a back-breaker," Ryan said.
Ryan felt he made the right defensive call because he was man-to-man. In theory, they shouldn't have been affected by Newton's fake. But it sure looked like they were.
"It's the same old stuff," linebacker Calvin Pace said. "It's tough to play against the opponent and yourself."
Historic touchdown: Sheldon Richardson became the first defensive lineman in Jets history to score on a run or reception, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Injury report: Richardson was evaluated after the game for a shoulder injury. He declined to comment on it. He has been playing with an injured shoulder for most of the season. ... Special-teamer Ellis Lankster injured his jaw.
Odds and ends: The Jets ran for 157 yards against the league's top-ranked rush defense. At the same time, the Panthers gashed the Jets (ranked No. 2) for 131 yards. ... Wide receiver Saalim Hakim made his NFL debut. He gained 8 yards on an end-around and was targeted once, an overthrow on a deep route. ... Hard to believe, but tight end Kellen Winslow was targeted only once. ... Pace recorded his ninth sack, a career high. ... Nick Folk kicked a 54-yard field goal, his season long.