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Papa Geno: Jets rookie QB accomplishes rare feat against Bill Belichick defense

10.21.13 at 10:39 am ET
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Geno Smith led the Jets to the overtime win Sunday. (AP)

Geno Smith led the Jets to the overtime win Sunday. (AP)

Geno Smith did something Sunday that no other quarterback has done against the Patriots over the last five seasons.

Rookie quarterbacks are now 4-7 in their last 11 starts against Bill Belichick, but in that span, Smith is the only  signal-caller to win his second game against the Patriots in his rookie season. Previously, Belichick had gotten the better of the first-year players, beating the likes of Ryan Tannehill and Mark Sanchez the second time he faced them when they were rookies. (Dating back to 2004, Belichick also managed to best Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlsberger in the AFC title game after the then-rookie beat the Patriots in the regular season.)

“He played well enough to win today,” Belichick said after the game when asked about Smith. “We’ll leave it at that.”

Here’s a look at what the rookies have done against the Patriots in their first season in the league.

2013: EJ Manuel (L): 18-for-27, 150 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Geno Smith (L): 15-for-35, 214 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT, sacked four times
Geno Smith (W): 17-for-33, 233 yards, 1 passing TD, 1 rushing TD, sacked four times

2012: Russell Wilson (W): 16-for-27, 293 yards, 3 TD, sacked twice
Andrew Luck (L): 27-for-50, 334 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT, sacked once
Ryan Tannehill (L): 13-for-29, 186 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, sacked three times
Ryan Tannehill (L): 20-for-35, 235 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, sacked seven times

2011: None

2010: Colt McCoy (W): 14-for-19, 174 yards, TD

2009: Mark Sanchez (W): 14-for-22, 163 yards, TD
Sanchez (L): 8-for-21, 136 yards, TD, 4 INT, sacked two times
Josh Freeman* (L): 2-for-4, 16 yards, sacked two times
* Freeman replaced ineffective Josh Johnson midway through fourth quarter

Smith followed the blueprint set down by the rookies who beat the Patriots the first time around:

• He wasn’t statistically overwhelming but managed (with one exception) to stay away from turnovers. Smith was a relatively pedestrian 17-for-33 for 233 yards, with one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown. The one pick he threw was relatively early and returned for a touchdown, his worst error of the day. But all in all, he did an excellent job managing the game, moving the chains nicely (the Jets were 11-for-21 on third down) and keeping his team in positive-yardage situations. (His pick marked the first time a rookie quarterback threw an interception against Belichick and managed to come out of the game with a win.)

• He was smart enough to put the ball in the hands of his playmakers. Wide receivers Jeremy Kerley (eight catches on 10 targets for 97 yards and a touchdown) and David Nelson (four catches on seven targets for 80 yards) and running back Chris Ivory (a whopping 34 carries for 104 yards) did the bulk of the work for Smith. Ivory’s performance marked the first time all season that an opposing running back topped 100 yards.

• He had the good fortune to be playing at home. No rookie quarterback — in his first or second start in his initial year in the league — has ever beaten Belichick in Foxboro over the last decade. From Smith to Wilson (2012) to McCoy (2010) to Sanchez (2009) to Roethlisberger (2004), all were away from Foxboro when they beat Belichick and the Patriots.

• And while the point total may cause folks to disagree, he did get a very good situational performance out of his defense. The Jets held the Patriots to 1-for-12 on third down, Brady failed to complete at least 50 percent of his passes for the second time in three games, New England was held under 100 yards on the ground, and the Patriots were held without a touchdown for the last 35 minutes of the game.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Geno Smith,
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