It wasn’t perfect, and there are plenty of plays Geno Smith wishes he could do over again. But at least he was back out on a football field doing what he loves best. Even if it might have felt a bit strange playing in the same building he called home the previous four years with the Jets.
“I was very excited, eager to get out there, especially my first time putting this uniform on with these guys,” the Giants’ recently signed backup, who played for the Jets from 2013-16, said after Friday night’s 20-12 loss to the Steelers at MetLife Stadium in the preseason opener for both teams. “It was fun. I was excited, eager to get out there. And once I went out there, just played and didn’t think about much and tried to make the right reads and do the right things.”
Smith played for the first time since suffering a torn right ACL last October in a game against the Ravens. It was his first start in relief of struggling quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and he didn’t even make it to halftime before suffering a season-ending injury.
“The knee felt great,” he said. “No issues. It felt good to get out there and just play again. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to go out there and have some actual competition with some guys who really wanted to hit me and get after me, so it felt good.”
Smith’s final stats were modest, as he completed 10 of 16 passes for 114 yards, no touchdown and one interception. He was sacked three times. Smith’s pick came in the third quarter and led to a Steelers field goal that gave them a 13-12 lead. He was intending the pass for rookie Travis Rudolph, but instead fired it right in the arms of linebacker Arthur Moats.
“It was just one of those things where coach [Ben McAdoo] always talks about not making a bad play worse,” Smith said. “It was totally on me.”
With Eli Manning getting the night off, Smith came on in relief of starter Josh Johnson in the second quarter.
“I just have to continue to improve,” Smith said. “I know there are some things I could have done better on the field. That’s what I was trying to do was be my best on every single occasion. It felt like today I was OK, but I can improve a lot.”
Johnson struggled in his time with the starters, going just 5-for-10 for 31 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. He was sacked three times.
“We all got something to clean up,” Johnson said. “One or two reads I made too fast. I wish I could have them back. That’s part of the first preseason game. Besides that, just it was good to get back out there.”
Rookie third-round pick Davis Webb saw time in the fourth quarter and finished 8-for-16 for 67 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions in his first NFL action.
“It was pretty surreal, being at MetLife for the first time, looking across the way at the Pittsburgh Steelers,” he said. “It was a cool moment.”
He knows there’s a lot of work ahead.
“It’s my job to soak it all in and get better from this one,” he said. ‘There are a lot of things I need to do better. I’m just excited to get to the next opportunity.”