Sunday, September 8, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Jets 18, Buccaneers 17
By Rich Cimini
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Quick takeaways on the New York Jets' 18-17 season-opening win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium:
What it means: The Jets lost the game and they won it, all in the final 76 seconds. Capitalizing on a stupid late-hit penalty on Bucs LB Lavonte David in the final seconds, the Jets stole the game with a 48-yard field goal by Nick Folk with two seconds left. David's penalty, hitting Geno Smith out of bounds, put Folk in field goal range. Moments earlier, a missed tackle by Jets S Dawan Landry set up a go-ahead field goal by the Bucs. Yes, the Jets got lucky. But lucky ain't bad in the NFL. Get ready: There will be a lot of close games this season because the Jets' defense will keep them competitive.
Stock watch: Smith was up. And down. And up. You get the picture. It was a typical rookie performance. Smith committed two turnovers in the first half (a fumble and an interception), but he kept his composure and finished 24-of-38 for 256 yards and a touchdown. He gave the Jets a 15-14 lead in the fourth quarter, executing a nice drive that included a few big screen passes, and his late scramble set up Folk's game-winning field goal. The moment wasn't too big for the rookie, who gave the Jets hope and something to build around.
No ground-and-pound: New offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has instilled a pass-first mentality; that has to change. The Jets won't win many games by rushing for 90 yards on 29 carries, hardly the ideal way to support a rookie quarterback. Chris Ivory was a nonfactor in his Jets debut, and he lived down to his reputation as a poor receiver with a key drop. They tried to mix it up, using Bilal Powell and Jeremy Kerley in the Wildcat, but they couldn't establish much against the Bucs, who owned the league's top-ranked rush defense last season.
Defense owns Freeman, Martin: Rex Ryan predicted a top-five defense this season. If the Jets could face the Bucs every week, he'd probably turn out to be correct. Other than Landry's missed tackle, they confused QB Josh Freeman by changing fronts, showing some 4-3 looks, and they contained RB Doug Martin better than anyone could've imagined. They held Martin to 64 total yards, keeping him off the edges as a runner and receiver. The Bucs' only success came on blitz-beating slants to Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson, who beat Antonio Cromartie for a couple of big plays. Rookie CB Dee Milliner settled down after a shaky start, which included a 17-yard touchdown catch by Williams. The Jets could've used ... uh, Darrelle Revis.
What's next: The Jets have a quick turnaround, as they face the Patriots on Thursday night in Foxborough. The Jets have dropped four straight in the series, including a 49-19 laugher last Thanksgiving -- the night of the Butt Fumble.