EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Jets came into their annual preseason game against the Giants hoping to gain some clarity in their quarterback competition.
It suddenly got more muddled.
Rookie Geno Smith was spotty, at best, in a turnover-filled performance in the Jets' 24-21 overtime victory Saturday night. Even worse, Mark Sanchez injured his right shoulder late in the game – playing behind an offensive line of backups.
That leaves the Jets right where they were: unsure who their quarterback will be when the regular season begins Sept. 8 against Tampa Bay.
"Like we've said," coach Rex Ryan said, "whenever we think the appropriate time is, we'll make that call."
They're running out of time. And now, they could be down one quarterback, depending on results of an MRI exam on Sanchez's shoulder Sunday.
The Giants have concerns about their offense, too, especially because it was considered the team's strength coming in. But Eli Manning & Co. struggled a bit against the Jets after a quick score.
"We really didn't have anything to help us on the offensive side of the ball," coach Tom Coughlin said. "The one thing that's very disappointing to me is where we are offensively and the fact that we, in all three areas, were obviously not all doing what we need to do in order to give ourselves a chance to win."
Here are five things we learned from the game:
1. REX ON THE SPOT: If Sanchez's injury is serious, the heat on Ryan will rise.
Smith got three-plus quarters of action after missing the last preseason game with an ankle injury. Then Matt Simms, competing for the No. 3 job, was warming up. Instead, Ryan wanted Sanchez to get into the game in the fourth quarter – despite appearing to be in good shape for the starting job.
"That was my decision," Ryan said, later adding: "I understand being second-guessed when an injury happens. Certainly I understand that. But that's football."
Sanchez rolled out under heavy pressure and completed a 23-yard pass to Mohamed Massaquoi before having his right shoulder slammed into by Marvin Austin. The team had no immediate word on the nature or severity of the injury. The Jets said the quarterback had already left MetLife Stadium – despite his clothes still hanging in his locker.
"I would not have put Mark in there if it wasn't important," Ryan said.
2. RAW GENO: If the Jets learned anything, it might have been that Smith isn't ready for prime time.
Smith got his first NFL start and didn't exactly light it up. He finished 16 of 30 for 199 and a touchdown to Ben Obomanu, but the turnovers were indicative of an inexperienced rookie who needs work.
"I don't do grades, but overall I think this is just a learning experience for me," Smith said. "Lots of teaching tape."
Ryan got testy when asked repeatedly if Smith can still win the starting job, turning his back to the podium at one point.
"I can say anything I want," he said. "That's the beauty of this country. I'll stand backwards and answer the question. I'm going sideways. We'll make the announcement when I think it's the appropriate time."
3. WORKHORSE WILSON: The Giants cut Ahmad Bradshaw in the offseason, but David Wilson was unproven, despite some flashes last season.
Wilson has answered those concerns in a flash. The speedy second-year running back had an 84-yard touchdown run on the Giants' first offensive play, and in limited opportunities this preseason has shown he can break big plays and not fumble.
4. OFFENSIVE OFFENSE: Third downs have been a bad spot for the Giants in the preseason. They went 3 of 18 in those situations against the Jets after going 3 of 15 last week against Indianapolis, leaving them 6 of 33 in the last two games.
What's more, the offense has posted just two touchdowns in three exhibition games.
"I know we can correct things and we have guys who want to do it correctly, and sometimes you have games where it's just tough and you're going against a good defense," Manning said.
One bright spot other than Wilson was the play of first-round pick Justin Pugh, who made his first start at right tackle and held his own, other than allowing one second-half sack.
5. OK ON D: The Jets had a horrific start, allowing Wilson's scamper on the first play from scrimmage, but tightened up from that point.
They frustrated Manning and the first-team offense the rest of the way, including stopping the Giants on four straight plays near the goal line just before halftime.
Meanwhile, the Giants caused five turnovers and have allowed 57 points in three games. But they also were called for four straight penalties that aided the Jets' first scoring drive.
"It's not good football," Coughlin said. "They're out there on the field and they do have to control themselves in that environment. This is our third preseason game. That's probably something that we're not going to be really happy about when we look at the tape."
There are also injury concerns as safety Stevie Brown, who led the team with eight interceptions last season, left with a sprained left knee after picking off Smith in the first quarter. Backup cornerback Jayron Hosley sprained an ankle.
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org