FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - For three quarters, the Patriots had their hands full trying to contain Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith. While the Jets' defense was shutting down Pats veteran Tom Brady in a scoreless second half, Smith accounted for 50 yards in a 58-yard scoring drive for a 3-yard run by Bilal Powell that cut New England's lead to 13-10 Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.
But just when it seemed Smith might engineer his second shocking upset in as many games, he was picked off three times in the fourth quarter, twice by Aqib Talib and once by Alfonzo Dennard. Instead of playing the hero as he did in leading a game-winning drive in the opener against Tampa Bay, Smith finished with 15 completions in 35 attempts for 214 yards, three interceptions and a miserable 27.6 quarterback rating for the game. He added 17 yards rushing on three carries.
"We wanted to get on the receivers tight and force Geno to make some great throws," said Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington, the five-year veteran out of Hofstra. "We had opportunities early and didn't finish the plays. We picked a great quarter to finish."
Asked to assess Smith's performance in his first taste of the AFC East rivalry, Arrington chose his words carefully. "I thought he played the game well, doing what they were asking him to do -- control the game," Arrington said. "He put some nice drives together. Fortunately, we were able to come up with a few turnovers. The biggest one, of course, was by Talib at the end of the game."
Talib's first interception was pretty big, too. The Jets were at the Pats' 27-yard line when Smith rolled to his left and threw slightly behind Clyde Gates. Arrington tipped the ball away and Talib pulled it out of the air.
"We call that dropping dimes," Arrington said of his tip. "I was able to make a play on the ball, but Talib made the play in actually catching the ball. He was huge for us tonight."
Arrington's first four seasons in the NFL coincided with the rise and fall of Mark Sanchez as the Jets' quarterback. Sanchez led the Jets to the AFC title game his first two seasons but committed a total of 52 turnovers in 2011 and 2012 as they missed the playoffs.
Contrasting Smith's ability to move out of the pocket and throw on the run with Sanchez's stay-at-home style, Arrington said of Smith, "He obviously adds a little more versatility as far as being able to run. You saw it out there today. He had a few scrambles. He picked up the first down on one. It can be frustrating if you let it happen often . . . I'm just happy we were able to put a complete defensive effort together."