Jets Win 24-21, Geno Struggles, Sanchez Hurt

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The third pre-season game is usually a full dress rehearsal for the regular season opener, however for the New York Jets it served as an opportunity to open the curtains on the 2013 version of the annual Gang Green circus.

The Jets defeated their cross town rivals, the New York Giants, 24-21 in overtime on Saturday, but after the game nobody was reveling in the victory. Rookie Geno Smith, who received his first professional start, had a poor performance (16 of 32 for 199 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions) which all but handed Mark Sanchez the starting quarterback job. But late in the fourth quarter — thanks to a dumbfounded coaching decision that put the eight million dollar quarterback in the game with the third string offense — Sanchez’s hopes took a huge hit…literally. Giants defensive tackle Marvin Austin broke through the Jets’ backup offensive line and slammed the veteran to the ground, leaving Sanchez writhing around in pain on the turf of MetLife stadium clutching his right shoulder. Sanchez (5 of 6 passes for 72 yards) left the game with a shoulder injury, potentially ending any chance of him winning the job he was unofficially anointed with following Smith’s poor performance.

After the game during a heated press conference Rex Ryan took the blame for leaving Sanchez in the game, but failed to comment on his reasons for doing so.

“That was my decision,” Rex Ryan said. “It was a coach’s decision all the way. It was my decision. You’re talking about competing. All week, you’re talking about winning a game and competing and that was my decision.”

The severity of Sanchez’ injury is unknown. The Jets have only announced that his recovery process is day-to-day, and they will know more when he starts throwing. The early prognosis is good news, but it’s baffling that Sanchez was even put in that situation when it was clear he was going to be the Jets’ immediate starting quarterback.

Ignoring his three turnovers, Geno Smith still didn’t look ready to be an NFL starter. He made several key mistakes: he gave away a safety — unaware of his surroundings he stepped out of the back of the Jets end-zone; continually starred down his receivers; struggled with his accuracy; and was unable to decipher the coverage schemes in front of him.

Smith told the media that he would use it as a learning experience, and that he still feels he is in the race to become the Jets starter.

“Well, as long as Rex [Ryan] and the committee are evaluating us, I think I have a shot,” Smith said. “As I’ve stated, I don’t think one game, one practice, one day will tell you the type of quarterback I am. I think it takes a ton of evaluation to get this thing done.”

With both Smith and Sanchez on the sideline it was left to Matt Simms, son of former Giants quarterback Phil Simms, to finish the job. He completed 6-of-10 passes for 120 yards including a 70 yard pass to Ryan Spadola, which set up the winning field goal in overtime.

The Jets may have won this game, but in the process they may have jeopardized their season.

Mark Sanchez has never been so loved in New York City as he is right now.


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