October 8, 2013 in Sports

Playing like a veteran

Jets rookie Smith calmly brings down Falcons with late drive
Paul Newberry Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

New York running back Chris Ivory, a former Washington State Cougar, picks up yardage in Monday night’s Jets win over Atlanta.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

ATLANTA – Rookie Geno Smith wasn’t flustered. Not after all the mistakes in his first four games. Not after the Atlanta Falcons went ahead on a touchdown with less than 2 minutes remaining.

Looking like a wily ol’ veteran, Smith calmly guided the New York Jets to another win.

Smith threw three touchdown passes and directed a drive that set up Nick Folk’s 43-yard field goal on the final play, giving the Jets a 30-28 victory over the staggering Falcons on Monday night.

“It’s always been a dream of mine since I was a kid to be in those situations,” Smith said.

After the Falcons went ahead on Matt Ryan’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Levine Toilolo with 1:54 to go, Smith completed four straight passes and broke off an 8-yard run that set up Folk’s field goal as time expired.

The Jets (3-2) have been waiting for this sort of performance from Smith, who came into the game leading the NFL with 11 turnovers, including eight interceptions. He completed 16 of 20 passes for 199 yards and threw almost as many touchdown passes as the four he had in the first four games.

“My confidence is always sky-high,” Smith said. “Nothing can bring me down.”

Smith put in extra work at practice to cut down on the turnovers, and it sure paid off. He was sacked four times but never lost the ball.

“It’s a mindset,” he said. “I made it my duty to come out here and not put the ball on the ground and not put my team in jeopardy.”

The Falcons (1-4) rallied from a 27-14 deficit in the fourth quarter. Jacquizz Rodgers scored on a pair of touchdown runs, and Ryan also threw a scoring pass to Jason Snelling.

But they couldn’t stop Smith when it mattered.

“He’s a rookie,” Atlanta safety William Moore said, “and we make him look like a 10-year veteran.”

Considered a Super Bowl contender at the beginning of the season, Atlanta is mired in a three-game losing streak – its longest since 2007 – heading into a bye week.

The Jets led 17-7 after a goal-line stand on the final play of the first half, which turned out to be awful big at the end of the game.

At the end, the Jets let the clock run down and sent on their kicker.

“I hit it pretty solid,” Folk said. “As soon as I saw it go and get up in the air, I knew it was pretty good.”

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