Looking like a wily ol' veteran instead of a rookie, Smith calmly guided the New York Jets to another victory.
"It's always been a dream of mine since I was a kid to be in those situations," Smith said.
The Jets (3-2) have been waiting for this sort of performance from Smith, who came into the game leading the NFL with 11 turnovers, including eight interceptions. He completed 16 of 20 passes for 199 yards and threw almost as many touchdown passes as the four he had in the first four games.
"My confidence is always sky-high," Smith said. "Nothing can bring me down."
Smith put in extra work at practice to cut down on the turnovers, and it sure paid off. He was sacked four times but never lost the ball.
"It's a mindset," he said. "I made it my duty to come out here and not put the ball on the ground and not put my team in jeopardy."
But they couldn't stop Smith when it mattered.
Considered a Super Bowl contender at the beginning of the season, Atlanta is mired in a three-game longest losing streak -- its longest since 2007 -- heading into a bye week.
The Jets led 17-7 after a goal-line stand on the final play of the first half, which turned out to be awful big at the end of the game.
The Falcons again passed on a chip-shot field goal, and curiously decided to hand it to their smallest back -- Rodgers is just 5-foot-6 and 196 pounds -- for a power run behind their shaky offensive line. Rodgers was swallowed up by the New York line, sending the Jets racing off the field in celebration while the Falcons staggered to their locker room to a round of boos from the Georgia Dome crowd.
The diminutive back scored on a 4-yard run midway through the third quarter, then broke off a 19-yard score to cut the Jets' lead to 27-21 with 8:10 remaining. The Falcons finally surged ahead, taking advantage of a holding call on Demario Davis after the Jets batted down a pass to Rodgers. Two plays later, Ryan hooked up with Toilolo, a tight end known more for his blocking.
But New York had plenty of time to pull off the winning drive.
There was no doubt about it.
"I hit it pretty solid," Folk said. "As soon as I saw it go and get up in the air, I knew it was pretty good."
Ryan completed 36 of 45 passes for 319 yards. Gonzalez hauled in 10 receptions for 97 yards and became just the second player in NFL history to catch a pass in 200 consecutive games, trailing only Jerry Rice (274). Julio Jones had eight catches for 99 yards.
The Falcons were missing six starters because of injuries, and the medical report grew longer. Receiver Roddy White went out with a hamstring injury, and Snelling didn't return after sustaining a concussion. In the fourth quarter, Atlanta got so far down the depth chart that a trio of third stringers contributed -- Kevin Cone caught a big third-down pass, Antone Smith broke off a key run, and Toilolo grabbed the go-ahead touchdown.
It wasn't enough.
"What we are going to do, sit here and feel sorry for ourselves?" Gonzalez said. "I'm not going to put my hands up and say the season is over."
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press