The New York Jets beat the Atlanta Falcons 30-28 on Nick Folk’s 43-yard field goal as time expired, giving rookie quarterback Geno Smith his first career road win in the National Football League.
Smith threw three touchdown passes, didn’t have a turnover for the first time in five games and led the Jets to the winning field goal in the closing minutes after the Falcons had erased a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit at the Georgia Dome.
“I made it my duty to come out here and not put the ball on the ground, not put my team in jeopardy,” said Smith, who had 11 turnovers in the Jets’ first four games, including seven in his previous two road starts. “It came down to a last-second drive against a tough Atlanta team on the road. We stood up and that speaks volumes about this team’s character.”
Smith, 22, is the second rookie quarterback to win a game on the road in the 44-year history of “Monday Night Football,” according to ESPN, helping the Jets improve their record to 3-2 on the season. The Falcons entered the game with a 34-8 home record over the past six seasons and were listed by oddsmakers as 10-point favorites.
Smith completed 16-of-20 passes for 199 yards and connected on all four of his pass attempts on the Jets’ final drive. New York drove 55 yards in eight plays to set up Folk’s winning kick after the Falcons took a 28-27 lead on Matt Ryan’s three-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Levine Toilolo with just under two minutes remaining.
Ryan completed 36 of 45 passes for 319 yards and two scores for the Falcons, who fell to 1-4 and surpassed their loss total from the 2012 season, when they went 13-3 and finished as the No. 1 seed in the National Football Conference. Atlanta has lost three straight games for the first time since Ryan was taken with the third pick in the 2008 draft.
“The biggest thing I’m proud of is we didn’t turn the ball over,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said at a news conference. “We weren’t reckless. We were the opposite. We were fearless.”
Smith threw first-half touchdown passes to Jeff Cumberland and Jeremy Kerley and the Jets took a 17-7 lead into halftime as their defense stopped the Falcons at the 1-yard line on the final play of the second quarter.
“With that goal-line stand, I knew that was going to be a huge series for us,” Ryan said.
After Jacquizz Rodgers scored the first of his two rushing touchdowns to pull the Falcons within 17-14 midway through the third quarter, Folk kicked a 36-yard field goal and Smith floated a 1-yard touchdown pass to Kellen Winslow in the corner of the end zone to push the Jets’ lead to 27-14.
Smith is the second rookie quarterback to throw three touchdown passes in a Monday Night Football game and the first since Dan Marino in 1983.
Smith’s best game as a pro comes a week after he had two interceptions and two fumbles in a loss at the Tennessee Titans.
“It’s great to come out of here with a team victory,” Smith said. “We bounced back from a tough one last week.”
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