It's time to let go of what you thought about the 2013 NFL season back in August. The New York Jets are not a punch line. The Atlanta Falcons, now 1-4, are not a good home team. And Rex Ryan is not about to get fired.
The 3-2 Jets handed the Falcons their second consecutive prime-time home loss with a thrilling 30-28 victory Monday night. Matt Ryan did his "Matty Ice" thing with a great fourth-quarter comeback. But Geno Smith topped him.
All of the no-huddle snaps the Jets rookie quarterback took while leading West Virginia in college paid off on Monday. Given the ball down one point with 1:54 left in the game and three timeouts, Smith calmly led the Jets 55 yards in eight plays to set up a 43-yard game-winning field goal by Nick Folk as time expired. Smith was accurate, completing 4 of 4 passes for 37 yards on the drive, and throwing in a scramble for a first down.
The Falcons could fall from the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs last season to out of the playoffs. Their close-game luck has run out. They aren't as bad as their 1-4 record indicates, but it's hard to win without a pass rush or an offensive line.
The Jets are far more fascinating. Their defensive front seven, led by dominant defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, is going to keep them in games every week. The team will win or lose based on its rookie quarterback. Smith is going to have disastrous games like he did in New England and Tennessee. And he's going to have nights like this one, when his arm strength, poise and hurry-up ability give Jets fans real hope that they finally found a keeper. He had 199 yards, three touchdowns and just four incompletions against Atlanta.
"I'm so happy we won this way. It took every one of us. We were not reckless. We were fearless," Ryan said after the game.
Yes, that sounded like the old Rex getting his mojo back. He's coaching up an overachieving bunch again. He's got a dangerous defense and a quarterback who only should get better.
This is a team that probably will break Jets fans' hearts in the end, but it's going to be a fun ride getting there. That's more than anyone expected out of this team.