EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Geno Smith stayed on the sideline. So did Mark Sanchez.
While the New York Jets’ quarterback competition is far from settled, Matt Simms certainly showed he might deserve to stick around when the season starts.
Simms, competing for the No. 3 job, led four scoring drives, and Kahlil Bell ran for 80 yards and two touchdowns as the Jets topped the Philadelphia Eagles 27-20 on Thursday night in the teams’ preseason finale.
Both Rex Ryan and the Eagles’ Chip Kelly rested their starters, which meant Michael Vick also sat this one out on Philadelphia’s sideline. Vick won the Eagles’ competition last week, earning the job ahead of Nick Foles while looking comfortable and effective running Kelly’s up-tempo offense.
Smith, the Jets’ second-round draft pick and the team’s possible Week 1 starter, was in uniform but only in case there was an emergency at quarterback.
Simms, whose father Phil had plenty of big games against the Eagles in his days with the Giants, didn’t need any help in this one.
Simms finished 33 of 44 for 285 yards while playing almost the entire game; newly signed Graham Harrell took a knee to end it.
Greg McElroy, whom Simms has been competing with, didn’t play with an injured knee.
Antonio Allen appeared to seal it for the Jets (3-1) when he intercepted Matt Barkley and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown with 1:57 remaining in the game.
But the Eagles (2-2) had one more chance after Zach Rogers dropped a fair catch of a punt with 45 seconds left. Matthew Tucker ran it in from 1 yard moments later to make it 27-20 with his second TD of the game for Philadelphia.
The ensuing onside kick attempt by the Eagles went out of bounds, sealing it for the Jets.
Foles was 6 of 17 for 63 yards in two quarters, before being replaced by Barkley to start the second half. Barkley was 13 of 27 for 134 yards and the interception.
Sanchez injured his right shoulder in the fourth quarter of the team’s 24-21 overtime win over the Giants last Saturday night and is uncertain to start the season.
Ryan’s decision to play Sanchez, who appeared to win the starting job after Smith threw three interceptions and stepped out of bounds for a safety, was highly criticized during the past few days.
Ryan said he wouldn’t have put Sanchez out on the field if it wasn’t “important,” but Smith might have earned the season-opening start by default.
The Jets have said only that Sanchez is “day to day” with the injury, but it’s very possible Smith could be under center against Tampa Bay on Sept 8.
After Barkley led a tying touchdown drive for the Eagles, Simms went to work — and the Jets stayed on the field a while.
Bell capped a 19-play drive over 80 yards that ticked 10:19 off the clock with a 2-yard touchdown run, his second score of the game.
Simms was sacked seven times in the first half, and the first came 2:21 into the game when he was taken down by Brandon Graham in the end zone for a safety that gave the Eagles a 2-0 lead.
The Jets got the ball back quickly, though, by forcing a turnover on second down when Ricky Sapp sacked Foles and forced a fumble that was recovered by Antonio Garay.
Simms then led a five-play scoring drive that included a defensive holding penalty and was capped by an 8-yard run by Bell, who took a direct snap in the wildcat formation.
Dan Carpenter, signed Tuesday to compete with incumbent Nick Folk, kicked a 45-yard field goal with 4:01 left in the opening quarter to make it 10-2. Carpenter was released by the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, four days after he was signed to compete with Jay Feely.
Philadelphia took advantage of a fumble recovery by Colt Anderson late in the first half after Konrad Reuland lost the ball and put the Eagles deep in Jets territory. Alex Henery kicked a 38-yard field goal moments later to make it 10-5 with 2:34 left.
Simms was solid during the Jets’ first possession of the second half, hitting Ryan Spadola for 29 yards, Michael Campbell for 41 and Chris Pantale for 7.
The drive stalled after that, though, and New York settled for a 28-yard field goal by Folk to increase the lead to 13-5.
Barkley led a 16-play, 80-yard scoring drive on the Eagles’ second possession of the second half, capped by a 3-yard run by Tucker. The undrafted free agent out of TCU then took a handoff up the middle for the 2-point conversion to tie it at 13 with 6:35 left in the third quarter.
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