Geno Smith leads Jets on game-winning drive over Falcons

 

For the second time this season, a last-gasp Geno Smith drive and Nick Folk field goal gave the Jets an improbable win, escaping Atlanta with a 30-28 win.

Two Matt Ryan touchdown passes in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons the lead inside two minutes left in the game. But the Jets’ rookie quarterback played with ice water in his veins as he orchestrated an eight-play, 54-yard drive in 1:54 to set up Folk for a 43-yard field goal for the win.

Folk hit a 22-yard field goal and Smith had touchdown passes to Jeff Cumberland and Jeremy Kerley to propel the visitors to a surprising 17-7 lead in the first half. Equally as impressive was a defense that consistently got to the quarterback and stifled the Falcons offense.

Included in their strong first half was a goal-line stop on the final play before halftime to keep the Falcons out of the end zone and preserve the 17-7 lead.

In the third quarter, the Falcons cut the lead to 17-14 when Jacquizz Rodgers 4-yard run ended an eight-play, 50-yard drive. Muhammad Wilkerson stripped Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan late in the third quarter set-up a Nick Folk 36-yard field goal and a 20-14 lead for the Jets.

Kellen Winslow’s 1-yard touchdown reception with 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter extended the Jets’ lead to 27-14. The Falcons offense rattled off two fourth-quarter touchdowns to take a brief lead, before Smith and the Jets (3-2) marched down the field.

What went right …

1. Red, green Geno

It was a very solid performance from the rookie quarterback, who overcame last week’s struggles which included four turnovers and responded with poise and savvy. He didn’t have the big plays he did in the offense two weeks ago against the Bills, when Smith had four passes of greater than 40 yards. Instead, he made smart reads and put the ball in a place where his wide receivers could make plays. His 16-of-20 for 199 yards and three touchdowns was key, but his two-minute drive to set up Folk’s game-winning field goal showed the potential in a young quarterback who was panned by many in the days leading up to the NFL Draft.

2. Cumberland emerges

In his fourth year in the league, tight end Jeff Cumberland was supposed to have a breakout season for the Jets, but had just four catches for 60 yards in the opening four games. All that changed on Monday night with three catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. Included in that was a 47-yard reception in the second quarter, a season high for the young tight end.

3. Wilkerson is All-Pro material

What a performance from defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson in a game where the Jets had to generate a tremendous pass rush to negate the Falcons and their downfield threats. It was Wilkerson’s ability to disrupt the pocket and rush Ryan into poor throws that consistently frustrated the Falcons offense. Wilkerson finished with five tackles and a sack along with a forced fumble to key a strong Jets defensive effort against one of the best offenses in the league.

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


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