Atlanta • After plenty of mistakes in his first four games, Geno Smith suddenly looked like a wily ol’ veteran for the New York Jets.
The rookie quarterback threw three touchdown passes, didn’t turn the ball over at all and guided the Jets on a clutch drive that set up Nick Folk’s winning field goal on the final play, giving New York a 30-28 victory over the struggling Atlanta Falcons on Monday night.
After the Falcons went ahead on the first play after the two-minute warning, Smith calmly completed four straight passes and also broke off an 8-yard run that set up Folk’s 43-yard field goal as time expired.
The Jets (3-2) have been waiting for this sort of performance from Smith, who came into the game leading the NFL with 11 turnovers, including eight interceptions. The previous week, he was picked off twice and lost two fumbles in a 38-13 rout by the Tennessee Titans.
But this was a different Geno. He completed 16 of 20 passes for 199 yards, threw almost as many touchdown passes as he had in the first four games (four), and zealously protected the ball.
"My confidence is always sky-high," Smith said. "Nothing can bring me down. I’m just going to continue to work. And we’re putting this one behind us. We’re getting on that bus, well enjoy it for a little bit, then get back to work."
Smith put in extra work at practice to cut down on turnovers, and it sure paid off.
"It’s a mindset," he said. "I made it my duty to come out here and not put the ball on the ground and not put my team in jeopardy. It came down to a last-second drive against a tough Atlanta team on the road. We stood up tonight. It just speaks volume to this team’s character."
The Falcons rallied from a 27-14 deficit in the fourth quarter, going ahead on Matt Ryan’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Levine Toilolo with 1:54 remaining.
Jacquizz Rodgers scored on a pair of touchdown runs, and Ryan also threw a scoring pass to Jason Snelling.
But the Falcons (1-4) are now mired in their longest losing streak since 2007. Considered a Super Bowl contender at the beginning of the season, they head into a bye week mired in a three-game skid.
"He’s a rookie," Atlanta safety William Moore said, "and we make him look like a 10-year veteran."
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