DENNIS WASZAK Jr., AP Sports Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Lavonte David sat on a stool in front of his locker, his head down, trying to make sense of what just happened.
A couple of Buccaneers teammates came over and patted the linebacker on the back. None of it did anything to make his huge mistake go away.
Nick Folk kicked a 48-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining after David’s personal foul on Geno Smith following a big run gave him the chance, and the New York Jets pulled out an improbable 18-17 victory over in the season opener Sunday.
“I don’t know what to say,” David said softly. “They called a flag. I guess I hit him out of bounds. Everybody told to me to keep my head up. All the guys in here were very supportive.”
The Jets also ruined the return of Darrelle Revis, their former star cornerback who was mostly quiet in his first game since suffering a season-ending knee injury at Miami last September.
“I felt good, getting back out there and doing what I love to do,” Revis said. “I was more excited being out there with my teammates. They’ve been anxious. I’ve been anxious. It was a great feeling.”
Revis finished with one tackle and two passes defensed.
“I think Darrelle played well,” Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. “Health-wise, he got gassed out there. A warm day on that field turf. From all preliminary signals, he came out OK.”
Trailing 17-15 with time running out, Smith scrambled for 10 yards and was shoved while he was out of bounds by David. The 15-yard penalty put the ball at the Buccaneers 30 and Folk won it.
“That’s just him playing football,” safety Mark Barron said. “I’m sure in that situation, it’s hard to stop. I’m sure he didn’t mean to do it. We’re not going to put the game on him. That’s not his fault.
“There were penalties throughout the whole game.”
There sure were, and that was a major problem for Tampa Bay. The Bucs were called for five penalties in the first quarter, including two in a row for trying to call timeout. The Buccaneers finished with 13 penalties, including David’s game-changing late hit.
“I wouldn’t have hit him if I didn’t think he’d stay in bounds,” David said. “They said he was out of bounds, so they called the play. To me, he was in bounds. I was definitely surprised about it (the penalty).”
On second-and-10 from the Jets 20, Smith found Kellen Winslow Jr. deep down the middle for a 25-yard gain. Then, with the seconds ticking away, the Bucs got pressure on Smith, who rolled out to his right and took off down the sideline. He ran out of bounds — and then David inexplicably shoved Smith.
It put the ball on the Bucs 30, setting up the winning kick for Folk.
“I already talked to (David),” defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “I told him he played a great game. He made a lot of big plays today and not to hang his head. There are a lot of different things that made us lose the game. It wasn’t that one penalty.”
The Jets jumped up and down on the field and on the sideline in exuberant celebration following Folk’s kick, moments after things appeared dim for them. Rian Lindell had kicked a 37-yard field goal with 34 seconds left.
“If there’s time on the clock, I expect us to go out there and execute,” Smith said. “And that’s what we did today.”
Smith, starting with Mark Sanchez out with a shoulder injury, had a fumble that led to a score and an interception, but was mostly solid. He went 24 of 38 for 256 yards with a touchdown to Winslow. Smith also led New York with 47 yards rushing.
Winslow had seven catches for 79 yards in his Jets debut. Santonio Holmes had one catch for 13 yards in his return from a foot injury that kept him sidelined for nearly a year.
With the Jets up 15-14, New York’s defense couldn’t stop Tampa Bay from driving for the go-ahead score. A 37-yard catch by Vincent Jackson on third-and-10 — safety Dawan Landry whiffed on a tackle attempt — led to Lindell’s field goal.
Josh Freeman was 15 of 31 for 210 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Jackson had seven catches for 154 yards, and Doug Martin ran for 65 yards and a score on 24 carries.
Freeman blamed some of the offense’s early struggles on the helmet audio system failing to work properly.
“There were a number of times where the microphone went completely dead,” Freeman said. “I couldn’t hear anything.”
The Jets went up 2-0 midway through the opening quarter when Freeman couldn’t handle the snap at the 8. The football squirted into the end zone, and Freeman went chasing after it. Seeing Antwan Barnes about to fall on it for a touchdown, Freeman kicked it out of the end zone for a safety.
Tampa Bay took a 7-2 lead with just over a minute left in the first quarter on a 17-yard touchdown catch by Mike Williams.
NOTES: Jackson went over 100 yards receiving for the 20th time in his career, and sixth with Tampa Bay. … Foster had two of the Bucs’ five sacks.
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