Geno Smith's first start was the storyline as the New York Jets took on the New York Football Giants at MetLife Stadium on Saturday, but another young quarterback stole the thunder. New Jersey-product Matt Simms, son of the former Giants' great QB, lead the Jets on two scoring drives to help beat their crosstown rivals 24-21 in overtime.
Simms came on late in the fourth quarter after Mark Sanchez, who was playing behind the third team offensive line, injured his right shoulder, after a hit by Giants' defensive tackle Marvin Austin.
Smith struggled through a turnover filled evening, but showed flashes of talent as well.
Smith started slowly and had his first two passes deflected for incompletions. He then got his third pass off quickly, but it fell a yard short of a first down. Gang Green punted, and the Giants took over at the Jets' sixteen yard line.
David Wilson then made the play of the game. He took a handoff from Eli Manning and sprinted 84 yards down the left sideline for a 7-0 Giants' lead. Wilson 's speed and bad tackling angles by the Jets made the play look easy.
But the Jets' rookie quarterback didn't fold his tent on the next series. Aided by four consecutive penalties, three of which lead directly to Jets' first downs, Smith drove the Jets on a 8-play, 86-yard drive that culminated in a 22-yard touchdown pass to Ben Obomanu, and the game was tied 7-7.
On the drive, the Giants' defensive line did not get much pressure on Smith, and the short patterns of the west coast offense helped keep pressure off of the rookie from West Virginia.
The teams traded punts, and then Smith committed his first turnover of the evening, as he underthrew Ryan Spadola and was intercepted by Prince Amukamara at the Jets' forty-two yard line. But Manning, who didn't look comfortable all evening, and the Giants could not get anything going.
Unfortunately for the Jets, Smith was in a giving mood all night, and Stevie Brown was happy to accept; intercepting the Jets' rookie and returning it to Gang Green's 24 yard line. Brown injured his left knee on the play and was out for the remainder of the game. Early reports said that Brown suffered a knee sprain and will be getting an MRI today.
The game was tied 7-7 after one quarter.
Manning and the Giants' offense continued to sputter and could only muster a single yard after the turnover, which culminated in a 40-yard Josh Brown field goal. The G-men lead 10-7, early in the second quarter.
A third Geno Smith turnover, this time an interception by Justin Tuck, swung momentum in the Giants' favor again. A quick pass to Bear Pascoe that netted a first down got Big Blue into Jets' territory. But the running game stalled, and Manning and Nicks couldn't hook up on a seam pattern, so the G-men settled for a 54-yard field goal attempt by Josh Brown. The attempt was short and wide to the left; leaving the Giants empty on another first-half opportunity.
But before the half ended, the New York Giants put together a 10-play, 79-yard drive aided by a pass interference call on Kyle Wilson and a great one-handed catch by Hakeem Nicks for 34 yards. Big Blue could not punch it into the end zone, however, as a fourth down attempt by Manning to Hakeem Nicks was broken up in the end zone.
When asked about the team's red zone struggles after the game, Manning said, "We have to execute. We have an opportunity to hit a fade to Hakeem one-on-one and we've got to hit those. We have to make [those plays] work."
Newly minted center Jim Cordle saw much room for improvement in his own game, as well as the entire offense. "We have to run the ball better, but we'll improve [in that area]," the Ohio State product said.
Smith continued at quarterback into the second half, and the Jets put together a 7-play, 57-yard drive against the Giants second defensive team. Bilal Powell scored from the two yard line, and Gang Green took a 14-10 lead with 8:52 left in the third quarter with a mixture of running and passing.
With Curtis Painter at the controls, the Giants moved the ball 71 yards on twelve plays that concluded with a 33-yard Josh Brown field goal that cut the Jets' lead to 14-13. Painter was 5 for 6 on the drive for 79 yards, and Julian Talley and Jerrel Jernigan had two catches a piece.
The Jets offense then self-destructed after a Steve Weatherford punt pinned them back to the Giants' four yard line. Chris Ivory was nearly tackled for a safety by Kyle Bosworth and lost three yards, then Geno Smith stepped out of the end zone while be chased by Mark Herzlich for a safety. The Giants took a 15-14 lead, and Smith was done for the evening.
Mark Sanchez gave Jets fans a glimmer of hope; moving the team forward for two first downs, before he moved back too quickly on a shotgun snap. The ensuing fumble was recovered by Mark Herzlich on the Jets' 39 yard line. But the offense couldn't get moving, and the result was only a 50-yard Josh Brown field goal and a 18-14 Giants' lead with 6:32 remaining in the game.
On the next series, Sanchez was knocked out of the game when he was flushed from the pocket by Herzlich and knocked down by Marvin Austin, injuring his right shoulder in the process. Sanchez would not return, and his place would be taken by Matt Simms.
After an uncharacteristically poor Steve Weatherford punt, the Jets took over on the Giants' 37-yard line. Simms hit Ryan Spadola with a 22-yard strike in the end zone, and the Jets took a 21-18 lead with just 2:02 left in the game.
But it wasn't over as Painter brought the home team back after a Michael Cox misplay landed the Giants at their own 16 yard line on the ensuing kickoff. Jernigan caught two passes from Painter and a 15-yard facemask penalty on Troy Davis lead to a Josh Brown 40-yard field goal that tied the score 21-21.
In the first possession of overtime, Giants' running back Da'Rel Scott fumbled and the Jets recovered. After a Giants' timeout, Nick Folk missed a 39-yard field goal for the win, and the misery continued.
What was left of the crowd saw Matt Simms hit Ryan Spadola for a 70 yard gain, and the Jets sent out Billy Cundiff to attempt a 40-yard field goal. Cundiff missed, but Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin called timeout, so the try did not count.
Rex Ryan sent his offense back on the field, and the Jets gained six yards, and Cundiff nailed a 33-yard field goal to give the Jets a 24-21 victory.
NOTES--In addition to Stevie Brown, cornerback Jayron Hosley injured his left ankle and did not return.
Terrell Thomas returned to the field after a two-year absence and played about two dozen plays in the first half and said he felt "great" after the game.
"It was a long time coming, and I feel blessed to be out there after three ACL surgeries," Thomas said.
Receivers Victor Cruz, Ramses Barden and Louis Murphy were scratched. Giants were 3-18 on third down attempts.