Game Balls, “Plucked”: New York Jets 30 Atlanta Falcons 28

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To borrow one of my favorite Suzyn Waldman-isms, “of all the dramatic things,” (and no, Roger Clemens is not in George Steinbrenner’s box) the New York Jets are now sitting at 3-2 by virtue of a heart-pounding road win against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, in front of the nation, after most people wrote them off before the season even started. I have to be honest, I thought the likelihood that they would be able to pull this one out was slim. Yet, the Jets came ready to play and were great in all three phases. The stat of the day is 0; the amount of turnovers the Jets committed last night and the first game in which they did not hand the ball to the opposing team. Imagine what would happen if they could do that on a regular basis. While you’re doing that, lets’ paint up some Game Balls:

Geno Smith:

Of all the obvious things, of course Geno was going to get the first Game Ball. He showed poise beyond his years and shined in shaking off that putrid game against Tennessee. His final stat line read: 16/20 (80%) for 199 Yards and 3 Touchdowns, he also made some plays with his legs, racking up 21 yards on 3 carries. I’m not one to overreact and anoint Geno as the answer at Quarterback but he took a big step forward last night, making some incredible throws when it mattered most.

With two minutes to go, the Jets needing a field goal to win. Geno stepped up and engineered a methodical, game-winning drive that culminated in a Nick Folk field goal, that sent the Falcons to 1-4.On the final play the Jets ran before kicking the field goal Geno, at 3rd and 3 from the Atlanta 31, checked out of what was an obvious passing play and opted to hand the ball to Bilal Powell. Powell picked up the crucial first down that set the Jets up for the win. This audible was arguably the most impressive play of the game for Geno. Although one game does not a season make, that was a signature win for both the Jets and Geno as he showed Matt Ryan what – or rather who – was “colder than cold.”

Nick Folk:

What can you say about Nick Folk? The organization has tried to replace him every year since he’s been here and yet, he comes through time and again in clutch situations. In fact, Folk has yet to miss once this season and has hit two game-winners thus far. If he keeps it up, a trip to Hawaii may be in his future. For now he’ll just have to settle for a Game Ball.

Muhammad Wilkerson:

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, “Beast Mo” has taken over the “Revis Slot” on this list as you can count him as a given, week in and week out. Wilkerson single-handedly dominated the beleaguered Falcons Offensive Line, beating Center Pete Konz like a drum all night. The nation got a glimpse of what Jets fans have known to be true for quite some time now, Wilkerson is one of the NFL’s elite defensive players. Wilk’s biggest play came on a strip-sack of Matt Ryan late in the Third Quarter, the Jets first Turnover since Week 1. On the day, Mo racked up 7 tackles (two for a loss) to go with the aforementioned sack and a forced fumble. Here’s to hoping Rex continues to let the “big dog eat.”

Bilal Powell:

After going into training camp as the third-string Running Back, Powell has shown that he is turning into quite the player. You name it, he can do it: Pass protect? Check. Run between the tackles? Check. Catch the ball out of the backfield? Check. Fight for extra yards when the team needs it? Double Check. Unfortunately for Powell, the return of Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson will likely mean that he will see less touches moving forward but you can be certain that he will make his case for more. After the game Rex called him “one of the most underrated players in the league” and I would be hard-pressed to disagree with him on that one.

Jeremy Kerley: 

With Santonio Holmes out and Stephen Hill making his way back from a concussion, Kerley had to step up Monday night and he did not disappoint, making big plays on offense and Special Teams. The Jets’ slot receiver led the team in catches with 5, including a first-half Touchdown that put them up two scores. However, his biggest contributions came in the second half, the first was on Special Teams where he fielded a punt close to Falcon territory and took it back to Atlanta’s 38-yard line and also drew a penalty on Punter, Matt Bosher for “Horse Collar” Tackle, which set the Jets up for a Kellen Winslow Touchdown. Kerley also showed up when it mattered most, reeling in a 13-yard pass from Geno Smith that gave the Jets a crucial first down in what would ultimately turn out to be the game-winning drive.

Antonio Allen:

After the Falcons first drive of the game stalled and Darrin Walls failed to haul in what would have been a sure pick-six, the Jets sent out their punt block unit and they certainly did their job. Strong Safety, Antonio Allen came flying in to block the Matt Bosher punt, setting the Jets up with great field position that ultimately turned into a Nick Folk field goal.

David Harris:

This was a vintage game for the “Hitman,” flying around the field and making tackles. He was especially effective in the running game as he was a big factor in the Jets bottling up the Falcons rushing attack. Harris led the team in tackles with 14, which was good enough to earn him his first Game Ball of 2013.

Marty Mornhinweg:

If the Jets didn’t pull this one out, he would have probably ended up doing some extra running today but he came up with a pretty good Game Plan that eased Geno back into the swing of things coming off of the Tennessee debacle. I think Rex has finally found his offensive counterpart in terms of how aggressive and multiple Mornhinweg is in calling plays but I’ll get into that later. However, he may be too aggressive at times. For example, when the Jets were up six with eight minutes left in the game, needed to rack up first downs, and take time off the clock, Mornhinweg decided it was a good time to go “empty set” on a second and short. The results? Geno was sacked by Osi Umenyiora, forcing a Third and (Very) Long, which saw the Jets to give the ball back to the Falcons, which they turned into the go-ahead score. Obviously you take the bad with the good and thus far the good has outweighed the good so…Game Ball.

Honorable Mention:

Stephen Hill

Darrin Walls

Take A Lap!:

I’ll be honest, there wasn’t a lot of bad to go around in this game but I can find some stuff to complain about so here we go:

Bill Leavy and Crew:

If the Jets lost this game the only thing you would be hearing about for weeks would be that phantom Pass Interference call on DeMario Davis that gave the Falcons new life after the Jets defense stood strong and stopped the Falcons on Fourth Down, in the Red Zone, for the second time. I have to agree with Gruden here, the officials need to keep the hankies in their pockets and let the players play football. It’s calls like that that will ultimately have human officials replaced by Siri.

Darrin Walls (circa 1st Quarter):

Calm down and put away those torches and pitchforks. I realize Walls played a pretty damn good game and kudos for sticking Harry Douglas like that in the Red Zone. He really showed people that there is at least one Jets corner that knows how to tackle. That said, given how hungry this defense has been for turnovers and defensive scores, you can’t let six points slip right through your hands so for that, go run one lap.

Rex Ryan (3rd and Long/4th Down Situations):

Again, retard your anger and outrage. I know Rex has been coaching his “you know what” off this season but this is just a personal peccadillo. Let me start by saying I love brash, aggressive, no holds barred Rex as a play-caller and a personality. However, I really wish he would stop sending “Jail Break” Blitzes on big 3rd and 4th down situations. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it actually work. Maybe if Revis were still here it would be more effective but any Quarterback worth his salt will see it and automatically go to his “hot read.” Otherwise I think Rex has been calling a fantastic defense thus far.

*Missing Persons Report*

Quinton Coples:

I don’t know what it is. He may still be making his way back from the ankle injury but Quinton Coples hasn’t really registered on the radar screen yet. Perhaps it is because he is being overshadowed by the outstanding play by his fellow Defensive Linemen but I don’t remember the last time I heard Coples name called for something good. I’m still of the belief that he is probably the best “pure pass-rusher” this team has and if he can get it going, then this is one scary unit.

  • Eric

    I think the Jets need to give up on the Coples at LB experiment and move him to the DL. He seems to be thinking too much at LB rather than reacting, and that’s never good for a football player.

  • Psi

    Daniel…we agree on virtually every point. Great observations. This is the 2nd time this year that MM’s pass happy philosophy has caused me concern. It is not his overall ability to call a game – which is obviously above average. It is his obvious dislike for using his running game for more than simply to set up his pass. I too was quite aggravated at that 2nd & 4 pass late in the 4th when the previous run netted 6. Oh well.

  • Lidman

    Even in a well called game, there are going to be calls that you don’t agree with. Had Geno, adjusted and moved the back or TE on his left, Osi wouldn’t have had a ‘free run’. Just as the Tennessee game was, this is a learning process. Geno was making good decisions, why should Marty have gone conservative there. Atlanta was coming with 5 anyway, so it’s not as if a run was a guaranteed yardage gain that year.

    I would have liked to see them threaten the end zone more. The Cumberland play was the only time they threw, for the end zone, from beyond 20yd; and that TD was ‘just’ a 20yd pass. Maybe Hill was more of a decoy (though he made some big grabs, over the middle, on that last drive), but he should be getting at least 3 ‘9s’ a game. Thoughts?

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  • KAsh

    They probably did not target Hill to prevent him from reinjuring himself. The Falcons cannot leave him unmarked, but the Jets do not want him hit either. So they did not target him until the final series.

    As for Coples, he might not be 100% yet. The strength is there; the speed is lacking. He was getting good push on the tackles and shifting the pocket from whatever side of the field he was on to whichever beast at DE was standing on the opposite side. So far, he has not got around a tackle. He needs some speed or some moves to throw blockers off balance.

  • John C

    I think I’d give one to Hill – In a symbolic sense, his catch and run, for the first, First Down on the last drive, may have set the tone. It also may have been his best such play of his career – one where he did not go down, but fought for that yardage. Compared to the play a couple of weeks ago, where he couldn’t gain a yard on a 3rd & 2, this was a revelation.