BY NICK ST. DENIS
The New York Jets had nothing to lose by signing tight end Kellen Winslow in June. In fact, they had something to win.
Winslow was the Jets' top receiver Sunday in Gang Green's season-opening 18-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Winslow hauled in seven receptions for 79 yards, including the team's lone touchdown.
It was a sort of homecoming for Winslow, who amassed well over 200 receptions with the Bucs from 2009-11.
"It feels really good," Winslow said after the game, via NewYorkJets.com. "I was real emotional before the game and I had to control myself. But it felt real good and I’m glad we came out with the win."
Winslow caught a 7-yard strike from rookie quarterback Geno Smith at the end of the first half to keep the Jets in it, and he made a just-as-important 25-yard reception on the Jets' game-winning drive. The Jets were down 17-15 at that point.
“We actually just made that play up. We had like (29) seconds left,” Winslow said. “They were playing deep. I ran about 20 yards and came back and he hit me.”
The play, couple with a Smith scamper that resulted in a 15-yard late-hit penalty against the Buccaneers, set up a 48-yard field goal by Nick Folk, which proved to be the final points of the game. Time expired on the ensuing kickoff.
Winslow is poised to be Smith's crutch moving forward as the rookie continues to develop.
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