Look out, AFC: The Jets are now 3-2 after pulling off a surprising 30-28 victory over the Falcons on Monday night. Atlanta — touted as a Super Bowl contender before the season started — fell to 1-4 with the loss. So, what can we take away from this game?
Geno Smith just gave us a big bag of STHU
Anyone out there have anything to say? No? You sure? No draftniks in the back with any snide remarks?
The Jets’ rookie quarterback took a giant leap forward on Monday night, coming up with his third fourth-quarter game-winning drive of his short NFL career. After the Falcons scored a late touchdown to go up by one, the Jets took over with 1:54 remaining.
Smith looked cool under pressure. He completed three consecutive passes and then scrambled for eight more yards to put the ball on the Atlanta 38-yard line. Three plays later and 13 yards later, Nick Folk kicked the winning 43-yard field goal as time expired.
“I thought he did an outstanding job for us the entire game,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said of his rookie QB. “You know what? I’m glad we won this way because it took every one of us. We played fierce.”
Fierce is the perfect word to describe Smith’s performance. He set the tempo in the first half, throwing touchdown passes to Jeff Cumberland and Jeremy Kerley to give the Jets a 17-7 lead at the half that took the crowd in the Georgia Dome out of the game. But he wasn’t done, coming through on third-and-goal in the fourth quarter with his third scoring toss of the game, a 1-yarder to tight end Kellen Winslow to make it 27-14:
Smith finished the game with 199 yards on 16 of 20 passing with zero turnovers. He also had a QB rating of 147.7, which was the highest for any quarterback in Week 5. Had he reached 250 yards on the night, he would have had a perfect 158.3 QB rating.
Of course, it’s not like this performance will put Geno on the fast track for the Hall of Fame as he’s still among the league leaders in turnovers. However, he definitely shut a lot of people up. Way to go.
The Falcons’ window for a title could be closing
It was just a couple of seasons ago that Atlanta was considered an up-and-coming contender. They had a young quarterback, a pair of hotshot receivers and a hard-hitting defense. Last season they fell a heartbreaker short of the Super Bowl. Fast forward to present day and where are the Falcons?
That defense has been decimated by injuries. Receiver Roddy White is dealing with a lingering hamstring issue. Tony Gonzalez (who still caught 10 passes on Monday night and moved into sixth place on the NFL’s career receiving yards list) is 37 years old. Atlanta’s offensive line is in a shambles. Free-agent running back Steven Jackson, 30 years old when he signed in the offseason, hasn’t played since Week 2 (hamstring) and has 77 yards this season. When you take all those things into consideration, it’s no surprise that Matt Ryan lost back-to-back home games for the first time in his career.
Atlanta’s season of frustration was no more apparent that at the end of the first half. The Falcons had first-and-goal from the 4-yard line with time running out. After getting bailed out with a defensive holding penalty on fourth down with just one second remaining, head coach Mike Smith elected to go for it instead of settling for a field goal.
That’s when this happened:
In case you’re counting at home, that’s five failed chances to get a touchdown against a ferocious Jets front seven.
That’s #Falcons‘ third failure on fourth down in last two weeks, all in red zone.
Again, the final score was 30-28. That field goal could have come in handy.
We’re just five weeks into the season, but the Falcons are already in third place in the NFC South — ahead of only the winless Bucs. If things keep going in this direction, the franchise will have some tough decisions to make. Will we see big changes?
Rex Ryan’s seat just got a little cooler
It was just a few months ago that the embattled Jets coach was considered on the outs in New York. The franchise had a new general manager and pundits across the nation proclaimed the Rex was just a lame duck until John Idzik could find “his guy” to lead this team.
Well, times have changed, huh?
Aside from one forgettable game in Week 4, this team has been in every game they’ve played this season. The Jets defense in particular, an underperforming unit in 2012, has been a pleasant surprise. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is a terror and his skills were on display on Monday. He had seven tackles, a sack and forced this Matt Ryan fumble:
Now, there’s still a long way to go this season. Things can still fall apart and Rex could very well be out of a job at the end. But for now, he deserves a lot of credit. And he’s getting it:
Rex Ryan has always had the ability to rally the troops.