The Geno-coaster goes down, as it did with two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns in the Jets' 40-point loss in Cincinnati last week. But the good thing is that the Geno-coaster always seems to come back up, as rookie quarterback Geno Smith showed again in the Jets' surprising 26-20 bounce-back win over the Saints Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Not that Smith outdueled Saints quarterback Drew Brees by any means. The Jets relied on a running game that produced 198 yards, and Smith managed the game by eliminating turnovers, completing timely passes and scoring on a 3-yard run just before halftime for a 20-14 lead.
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Smith played well despite going only 8-for-19 for 115 yards and a 62.4 rating while working with a depleted receiving corps. You could tell because his name came up only once in coach Rex Ryan's media session.
"With Geno, the thing I was most proud of, he never forced the issue," Ryan said. "He's not worried about stats or anything else. He's worried about wins. That's where I think he's grown. I've seen it."
Smith was especially poised after Antonio Cromartie's interception put the Jets at the Saints' 39 with 2:12 left in the first half. Smith hit passes of 13 yards to Greg Salas and 21 yards to tight end Zach Sudfeld to move to the 3.
Running out of the shotgun formation, Smith scored on the next play to put the Jets ahead.
"It was designed," Smith said of the TD, crediting center Nick Mangold for suggesting it. "Nick saw something on the D-line and relayed it to Marty , and Marty relayed it to me. I kind of tried to stretch the play . . . and just cut back into the end zone. It really elevated us because not only did we get points but we gained momentum."
Reflecting on his overall play, Smith added: "Not having so many negative plays and negative yardage really helped us."