Mark Sanchez’s best chance to start again for the Jets might rest on Geno Smith getting injured trying to run over a defender. Smith had plenty of help from a great defensive line rushing Tom Brady, a powerful running back behind him and a late call to set up the winning field goal. However, he also showed pinpoint accuracy on tight first-down throws, the ability to run over or around defenders, and perhaps most importantly the willingness to throw the ball away in a 30-27 overtime win over New England.
Smith recovered from an early pick-6 to come up with two big runs for a tough first down and touchdown en route to 32 yards on six carries to bring the Jets back from down 21-10 at halftime to force overtime and win on a 42-yard field goal by Nick Folk.
After the Jets responded with a pick-6 of their own to pull within 21-17, Smith came up with three big plays to give the Jets the lead. He hit Nelson with a 27-yard pass to get to the Patriots 20 yard line, but the Jets drive appeared to stall out on a 3rd and 14 play. Smith rolled left and could not find a receiver, then started to run down the left sideline. Cornerback Marquice Cole hit him about four yards short of the marker, only to have Smith hit back harder to move forward and then stretch and reach the first down marker at the 10-yard line.
Smith then rolled right, weaved between three Patriots, and shed Donte Hightower to score the go ahead touchdown.
It was a lot of contact for a quarterback in a league that saw Robert Griffin III eventually get knocked out last year, so the two plays showed both Smith’s potential and the potential vulnerability.
Smith started the game by driving the Jets down the field methodically on the first drive with the help of hard-fought rushing yards from Chris Ivory (104 yards rushing), and seemed completely on the same page with three receivers:
1. He capped the first drive with a perfect connection as Jeremy Kerley broke to Smith’s left.
2. Twice he converted first downs into tiny windows on the ground to hit David Nelson with a defender on Nelson’s drive. He led the Jets to 11 of 21 third-down conversions, while Brady and the Patriots were 1 of 12 even with their star tight end back in the line-up.
3. He also seemed to always know where his tight end Jeff Cumberland was for clutch throws.
With the win the Jets improved to 4-3 and are within one game of the Patriots for first place, and the Tim Tebow vs. Sanchez arguments seem long gone with Sanchez looking like the quarterback that will have to live in the long shadow of Joe Namath in the big spotlight of New York.