CLEVELAND — Geno Smith was about as Geno Smith as he could have been Monday night.
Smith, fighting for the backup quarterback job with the Giants, was rolling right along, playing a large chunk of the game. He was on the verge of not only getting the Giants into the end zone for the first time this preseason but likely cementing the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.
And then, on third-and-goal from the Browns’ 4, Smith threw a pass toward Roger Lewis Jr. that was intercepted by Briean Boddy-Calhoun.
“It’s back-breaking,” Smith said. “Not in the sense of the competition but just for the team. You want to go out there and win the game no matter what the situation is, what the scenario. You don’t want to do that.”
The Giants wound up with a 10-6 loss. Smith finished 11-for-17 for 79 yards, but that one throw seemed to define his night.
“He took a timeout in the fourth quarter that I didn’t like, he threw an interception on the goal line that I didn’t like,” Ben McAdoo said of his initial evaluation. “Those things stood out to me. Other than that, he played pretty good.”
Not good enough, though, to silence the doubters who have always thought that Smith is too prone to turnovers. Were it not for his two in the two preseason games, in fact, Josh Johnson likely would not even have a chance of making the roster.
But that’s Smith. All the talent, all the playmaking, all the ability — and all the mistakes.
This one came on a play in which Smith tried to make a check at the line of scrimmage. “I was trying to get an audible off, but unfortunately, [not everyone got] the signal,” he said.
Lewis, he later said, was there and the first option on the play, but Boddy-Calhoun — who earlier in the game took out Odell Beckham Jr. with a low hit — was between them. “It was just a bad play,’’ Smith said. “There was a receiver right there. It was a designed play and unfortunately, not everyone got the check.”
It was the last play of the night for Smith. Johnson came in to finish up the game.
“It’s very frustrating,” Smith said. “You have to keep your head up and continue to lead.”
As for his game ending on that sour note, Smith said he would have liked to come back out on the field after the interception.
“But that’s something outside of my control,” he said. “I can only control the things I can control, and that’s not making that mistake down in the red zone.”