The Jets have taken a lot of abuse over the years for their tragicomic habit of blowing games in the worst ways possible, but something different happened in the season opener against the Buccaneers.
Tampa out-Jets’d the Jets.
After the Buccaneers snapped out of their daylong slumber long enough to grab a 17-15 lead with 38 seconds to play, linebacker Lavonte David made about as dumb a play as you’re likely to see all season. Geno Smith scrambled for about 10 yards with time running short on the Jets, who were out of timeouts, and had clearly stepped out of bounds when David hit him. It was an obvious foul and set up Nick Folk’s game-winning 48-yard field goal.
The 18-17 win was fueled by Tampa penalties throughout. The undisciplined Bucs were flagged 13 times for a variety of infractions, including a defensive holding on Leonard Johnson that had given the Jets a first down on the way to another Folk field goal in the fourth quarter. The Jets defense stoned Doug Martin most of the day and the Bucs had a hard time exploiting their obvious advantage with Vincent Jackson, who finished with 154 yards on seven catches, often enough to put points on the board. Freeman finished the day 15-of-31 and was sacked three times while also tossing an interception.
Smith turned the ball over twice in the first half, but his decision-making was much better in the second half. The Jets offensive line broke down a bit too often, but Smith was better about throwing the ball away and limiting negative plays. The play calls also kept things simple, which suited Smith well, and the rookie showed he can make plays with his feet when that’s called for.
That’s not to say he looked like a future star all day. It was a rough game to watch offensively on both sides and the Jets can’t rely on so much help from the opposition. But after months of tortured waiting for the season, the Jets are 1-0 and, for the few hours they get before starting to prepare for the Patriots on Thursday, tied for the best record in the entire league.