Even after win, Jets' Geno Smith focuses on fixing mistakes

Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith against the Bills Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith against the Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Sept. 22, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty

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The stat sheet told the story: 331 passing yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions.

Geno Smith's third NFL start was as exhilarating as it was exhausting, riddled with rookie mistakes as well as big-time plays.

But as he donned a Superman T-shirt in front of the cameras Monday, the Jets quarterback downplayed the team's stellar offensive output and instead accepted responsibility for his miscues against the Bills on Sunday in the Jets' 27-20 win.

"[Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg] knows that I'm always going to be hard on myself," said Smith, who Tuesday was nominated for rookie of the week, along with Bengals running back Giovani Bernard, Titans wide receiver Justin Hunter, Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah and Browns linebacker Barkevious Mingo.

"I never want to throw interceptions and he doesn't want to see it. It's something that we talk about constantly. I even talk about it with him on the sidelines, just figuring out ways of not letting that happen."

It's far too early to crown Smith the savior of the franchise, but he's more than enough reason to tune in to every game. In Smith, the Jets have a quarterback who consistently has shown poise and a much-needed ability to bounce back from bad plays. The former West Virginia star is second in interceptions (six), behind the Giants' Eli Manning (eight). But the Jets (2-1) had a legitimate chance of being 3-0 had their wide receivers held on to the ball and Smith not thrown three fourth-quarter interceptions at New England in Week 2.

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When the Jets run out of the tunnel Sunday in Nashville to face the Titans, they'll have a quarterback who has proved the moment isn't too big for him -- and who, his teammates believe, can put them in a position to win. And that's something they didn't always have last season.

In a mid-December game at Tennessee that the Jets desperately needed to win to keep their playoff hopes alive, Mark Sanchez threw four interceptions and lost a fumble with 43 seconds left to seal a 14-10 loss.

Sanchez, of course, didn't have the benefit of playing for Mornhinweg.

Aided by Mornhinweg's play-calling, Smith had four completions of 40 yards or more Sunday, something no Jets quarterback had done since 1991. The Jets had six pass plays of 40 yards or more last season under coordinator Tony Sparano, and only three the previous year under Brian Schottenheimer.

True, the Bills (1-2) are a work in progress with a rookie head coach (Doug Marrone), rookie quarterback (EJ Manuel) and a new defensive coordinator (Mike Pettine). But Mornhinweg put together a blueprint that generated 513 yards and resulted in the first game in the franchise's 54-season history that featured a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher (Bilal Powell) and two 100-yard receivers (Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill).

"Marty does a phenomenal job of taking what the defense gives us," Smith said. "They pressed us a bunch, so it was necessary for us to go downfield and for guys to win downfield, and they did so. That's all we try and do every week -- take what they give us, be efficient, and when the chances are there, complete them."

Notes & quotes: Powell is a nominee for the best rushing performance of the week after setting career highs in yards (149), carries (27) and long gain (27). DeAngelo Williams (Panthers) and DeMarco Murray (Cowboys) also were nominated . . . During his weekly spot on WFAN, Muhammad Wilkerson said his ankle still isn't 100 percent. Asked about rookie cornerback Dee Milliner, who did not start Sunday, the third-year defensive end said: "Once he feels comfortable, he'll be out there."

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