The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights. But the Jets looked sharp with their starters in the game, perhaps showing a team that can build on last year’s 8-8 performance.
The Jets took a 10-0 lead midway through the second quarter on a 31-yard field goal in the first quarter and a 1-yard touchdown pass from Geno Smith to rookie tight end Jace Amaro to end a seven-play, 66-yard drive. The offense mixed in a nice blend of pass and run to systematically move the ball down the field in the two clean scoring drives.
“Yeah, that’s what we want to do. We have a bunch of weapons and we want to use them, be diverse, get the ball in the hands of the playmakers and allow ourselves to put points on the board,” Smith told CBS2 during the game.
A 15-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Reuben Randle cut the Jets’ lead to 10-7 on the stroke of halftime, but there were still plenty of positives in the first half on both sides of the ball for the Jets. The Giants responded in the second half with two Ryan Nassib touchdown passes and an Andre Williams dive into the end zone as part of a four-touchdown rampage that ran the Jets’ defensive backups off the field.
Michael Vick’s entrance into the game after halftime started off shaky with a botched handoff setting up the Giants’ first touchdown of the third quarter. But on the next drive Vick bounced back as he went 4-for-5 for 35 yards, including a 3-yard pass to Eric Decker to reclaim the lead for the Jets. Vick stayed in the game for just two series before giving way to Matt Simms, who is battling Tajh Boyd for the third quarterback slot.
Simms made his case for the roster with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Greg Salas early in the fourth quarter.
1. Geno’s composure
Geno Smith put together a complete performance in his longest playing time this preseason. Smith patiently waited in the pocket through his progressions on the first play for the offense to find rookie tight end Jace Amaro over the middle for 15 yards. He showed incredible patience on the second drive to wait for Eric Decker to break free for what would become a 27-yard completion. He went through his progressions with poise — something he failed to do last year — as he has obviously made gains in his reading of defenses.
His further willingness to go through his check-downs rather than forcing to his hot-read is a positive development for the offense. Smith finished 9-of-14 for 137 yards with a touchdown. He also utilized his feet well, adding 17 yards on three rushes. He came out of the game at halftime.
2. Walls of defense
Darrin Walls got the start on Friday night due to injuries at cornerback and was given the opportunity to answer some questions about his play as he’s been plagued by bad drops and inconsistent play throughout his career. He should have had a pick-six on the Giants’ second drive of the game, but let the ball go through his hands. On the next play, Giants quarterback Eli Manning hit Reuben Randle on a designed roll out, throwing over the top with Walls a step behind in coverage. It wasn’t a bad night from Walls, just not the kind of performance that gives you confidence if Dee Milliner isn’t ready to play.
3. Amaro coming around
It was a good night for Jets rookie tight end Jace Amaro, who has been plagued by drops this offseason. In his second straight start with Jeff Cumberland hurt, Amaro hauled in four catches for 37 yards and a touchdown. His run blocking also showed signs of improvement, even though he needs to leverage his feet and lower-body strength to better push defenders back. All in all, it was a good night for the rookie.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.