Geno Smith got off to a great start, firing off a 26 yard pass to Jeremy Kerley on his very first NFL snap. Smith also featured the athleticism that trademarks the young quarterbacks of this era, reeling off a three yard run, before throwing an incomplete pass to end the drive. The Jets then lucked into their first points of the year, as quarterback Josh Freeman fumbled at the Tampa Bay eighth and then clumsily kicked the ball out of the end zone, resulting in a safety and a 2-0 Jets lead.
The Bucs, though, took the game back with a minute left in the quarter. Getting the ball at the Jets 44, Freeman threw back to back completions to Vincent Jackson before firing a 17 yard endzone pass to wide receiver Mike Williams for a TD. After a touchback on the kickoff, the Smith led the team down field, allowing Nick Foles to kick a 43 yard field goal and bring the score to 7-5.
After a solid first quarter, the second brought shades of Mark Sanchez for Geno Smith. On the first play, of their very first drive of the quarter, Geno Smith got mauled and sacked by Macon Foster, fumbling the football and giving the ball back to the Bucs at the Jets 5 yard line. RB Doug Martin subsequently took a handoff from Freeman and ran it 5 yards for a touchdown, and a 14-5 lead.
Smith, the Jets second round pick, struggled again on the next drive. After leading the team 40 yards down field, Smith let a ball fly down field, only to see it picked off by outside line backer Lavonte Davis. Tampa Bay’s Jeremy Freeman, who recently lost his captainship, was of course no better, getting picked off by Dawan Landry just 3 plays later.
There is, however, a reason that the Jets picked Smith over Sanchez for their starting quarterback and Smith proved it in the the second quarter. Running his first career NFL 2 minute drill, Smith capped off a rocky first half with a 7 yard pass to tight end Kellen Winslow, bringing the score to 14-12 heading into the half.
After a quiet third quarter, the Jets took a surprising lead when Nick Foles kicked a 30 yeard field goal with six minutes left in the fourth. But, in classic Jets fashion, the defense crumbled as Josh freeman and the Bucs rallied back. Freemand and RB Martin led the team 61 yards downfield and took a seemingly decisive 17-15 lead off a 37 yard field goal with just 34 seconds left to play.
The Jets got the ball back at the 20, needing to drive about 50 yards in 34 seconds to get into field goal range. An incomplete pass by Smith gave them only 29 seconds and even fewer downs. Smith then miraculously unfurled a 25 yard pass up the middle to Kellen Winslow. Timeout. One play later, Jets have the ball at their 45 with 15 seconds left, Smith falls under pressure but manages to rush to the left and out of bounds for a 10 yard gain. Lavonte David, though, put a late hit on Smith, drawing a flag and putting the Jets in field goal territory. In a suddenly silent Metlife Stadium, Nick Foles knocked a 48 yarder right through the uprights with seconds left on the clock to seal a Jets victory.