Fitzpatrick believes in himself - even if Jets brass doesn't
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Ryan Fitzpatrick still believes in himself, even if the New York Jets' decision makers don't.
Just five days after being benched, the veteran quarterback came on in relief of an injured Geno Smith and helped lead the Jets on three scoring drives in a 24-16 comeback victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
''Pretty ironic situation,'' Fitzpatrick said.
Yes, indeed. Particularly because he didn't know if he'd ever get back under center in a game for the Jets this season - or ever.
Fitzpatrick, signed to a one-year, $12 million deal just before training camp began, was efficient after losing his job when coach Todd Bowles decided to start Smith over him .
Fitzpatrick, who set a Jets record with 31 TD passes last season, had thrown an NFL-leading 11 interceptions and just five touchdowns in the first six games this season. Bowles was hoping Smith would provide a spark, which he did, going 4 of 8 for 95 yards and a touchdown to Quincy Enunwa.
But Smith injured his right knee while taking a sack from Baltimore's Matthew Judon in the second quarter and was having an MRI to determine the severity and if he needs to be sidelined.
''I don't feel like it hurts a ton,'' said Smith, who spent the second half on the sideline wearing sweats. ''Honestly, I was begging to go back out there, but I understand they're doing their jobs.''
So Fitzpatrick had to step back in and take over as the team leader - again.
''I got into the huddle and we almost all had to laugh at the situation and just the irony of it,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''Not because Geno got hurt, obviously, but just being thrown back in there.''
Fitzpatrick came in and led the Jets on a go-ahead drive that was capped by a 13-yard touchdown catch by Matt Forte.
''I was definitely disappointed to see Geno come in and play well, but then get injured,'' wide receiver Brandon Marshall said. ''I'm glad we had Fitz on the bench. I definitely feel for Geno.''
Fitzpatrick finished 9 of 14 for 120 yards and the TD - and no turnovers - as the Jets (2-5) snapped a four-game losing streak.
''The biggest thing in this game, in order to last, is to have belief in yourself,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''Because when the owner stops believing in you, the GM stops believing in you and the coaches stop believing in you, sometimes all you have is yourself.
''So, that's kind of something I've had to deal with before, something I'm dealing with now.''
When asked if he felt that owner Woody Johnson, general manager Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles had, in fact, lost belief in him, Fitzpatrick acknowledged he thought that was the case.
''Yeah, when you get put on the bench,'' he said, ''I think that's the reason why.''
It's no sure thing Fitzpatrick will be the starter again next week at Cleveland, especially as the Jets await the results of Smith's MRI. Bowles would not commit to anything after the game, saying he needed to see what Smith's status was.
''I don't know what decision they're going to make or what Geno's health is going to be like,'' Fitzpatrick said, ''but, yeah, I think I should start every week.''
Fitzpatrick and the offense also were boosted by a rejuvenated defense that came up with two rare interceptions against the Ravens (3-4) and set a franchise mark by holding them to 6 yards rushing.
''The turnovers hurt,'' Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said, ''but we just didn't do anything.''
Flacco started for Baltimore after being questionable with a sore shoulder. He went a team-record 176 consecutive throws without an interception before Buster Skrine picked off his pass in the third quarter and returned it 51 yards to the Ravens 3.
But the Jets faltered and had to settle for Nick Folk's 22-yard field goal and a 17-16 lead.
The defense made it two possessions in a row with a takeaway - after coming in with just four all season - as Marcus Gilchrist picked off Flacco and returned it 27 yards to the Ravens 24.
Three plays after a wild sequence in which Forte fumbled, Timmy Jernigan recovered for Baltimore and then Marshall stripped the ball and recovered it for the Jets, Forte ran it in from 1 yard.
''I probably play better as an underdog, (ticked) off,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''And so going forward, yeah, I'll be (ticked) off.''
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