Geno Smith beats Bucs in debut thanks to LaVonte David's big mistake
The shame about the end of the New York Jets' 18-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is that second-year linebacker LaVonte David is one of the NFL's most underrated defenders, and now everybody will know his name for the wrong reason. With 15 seconds left in the game and the Buccaneers up 17-15, Jets quarterback Geno Smith ran from his own 45-yard line to the Tampa Bay 45. As he ran out of bounds, David gave him an extra push and drew a 15-yard personal foul for his trouble. (Find the play below.)
So, with the ball now at the Tampa Bay 30, Jets kicker Nick Folk booted a 48-yard field goal to take the game.
"[Expletive]," David said after the fact. "They just called the flag, I don't know what to say. I guess I hit him late."
David also said, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, that he would not have hit Smith if he thought the quarterback was going to go out of bounds.
Outside of the David penalty, the big news in this game was the performance of the Jets rookie quarterback. Smith may have won the starting job by default, but he had some nice moments after an offseason in which he was ripped by some draft analysts, saw his draft stock plummet and had to learn to deal with the 24-7 circus that is the Jets. In his regular-season debut, Smith -- who missed crucial preseason time due to injury -- completed 24-of-38 passes for 256 yards, a touchdown, an interception and a lost fumble. He had a couple of plays to tight end Kellen Winslow, including a seven-yard touchdown near the end of the first half, and played pretty well overall despite near-constant pressure between the guards.
Former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, traded to Tampa Bay in the offseason, deflected two passes, but didn't come up with an interception. Smith made news this week by claiming that he hadn't watched any game film on Revis, relying instead on the injured mark Sanchez and the Jets' staff for tips on Revis. David, interestingly enough, also had the lone Smith interception -- late in the second quarter, on a pass intended for Stephen Hill. Thus, for both Smith and David, the transformation from hero to goat (and the other way around) was quick and decisive.