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In all seriousness, this was a huge win for the Giants and a baffling defeat for the Jets. Huge because the Giants showed some incredible resiliency on the road, and baffling because the Jets lost one of the strangest, flukiest games you will ever see. How often does a team win when it gives up three touchdowns to an opposing running back? And how often do you see five total return touchdowns in a game? Never, is the answer to that one.
Losers first. This was a bad game all around, perhaps not quite as soul-sucking as the Jets’ 45-3 loss to New England last year, but one that cannot be written off quite as easily. The Ravens defense went absolutely wild in this game – how wild, you ask? Talk to anyone who was up by 40 points in their fantasy league, with their opponent playing Baltimore’s D/ST, and see how bad of a heart attack they had Sunday night (huge). A superhuman performance, and one that you will not see again for a long time by any team.
The game did highlight some serious issues. The Jets have huge problems on the offensive line, namely in that Nick Mangold in street clothes makes for Sanchez sitting on his GQ ass on the turf. Sanchez took shot after shot, coughed up the ball in increasingly ugly ways and was actually the best offensive player on the field – for the Ravens.
The run game was nonexistent in this one, but that again falls on the O-line, the Ravens’ stout defense and the fact that Sanchez couldn’t do a thing all game. Sanchez is not a lost cause. He will get better, and he will have good games and bad games and nightmare games. This one falls squarely in the nightmare category, but let’s hope Sanchez doesn’t have post traumatic stress disorder if the Jets have to travel to Baltimore in the playoffs.
Positives? Well Joe Flacco had just about as bad a game as Sanchez, including his own pick-six returned by the criminally underrated David Harris. The Jets held Ray Rice to a modest 130 yards on 27 touches, an improvement after last week’s fiasco in Oakland. And… uh… I bet all the player’s moms were happy to see them on national TV? So… that’s good.
Now the winners. A thrilling game all around, one that I watched on an iPad on an Amtrak train and finished at the bar of the TGI Fridays in Penn Station. Do not go to the TGI Fridays in Penn Station. I walked in just as Victor Cruz looked to have given the game away, ordered a Diet Coke (for which I was charged $4.34 – THAT’S RIGHT) and watched as Hakeem Nicks strolled into the end zone to put the game away. One of the more satisfying wins in recent Giants memory, and one that may go a long way toward getting this team on a roll.
I am bearish on the Giants because, well, that’s how most Giants fans are. Year after year this team starts off strong and fades, and there is no reason to think that a team already playing with third and fourth stringers will be able to sustain this pace. If they win 10 games, it would be the second finest performance of Tom Coughlin’s career and he would deserve some Coach of the Year consideration.
Having said that, there were a lot of positives in this game. Victor Cruz has sort of arrived, and boneheaded near-crippling-fumble aside, he had a very nice game. Nicks looked to be back to his old self, and Jake Ballard had quite the game for a guy who is supposed to be a blocker. Eli Manning is oddly fantastic running the two minute drill – at the end of the first half to put the Giants in position for a field goal, and in the end of the second half to win a game the Giants really had no business winning.
Why? Because they made Beanie Wells look like Adrian Peterson. He ran buck wild all day, strolling into the end zone at will and making the Giants run game look pathetic by comparison. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs couldn’t do a thing all day, and Jacobs looked awful whiffing on a block on the Manning fumble, while Bradshaw added an ugly fumble of his own.
The defense got chewed up on the ground and gave up way too many big plays, but if you had told me that Larry Fitzgerald would finish with eight catches for 107 yards and no touchdowns, I’d take that every time. The Giants made Kevin Kolb look downright terrible – is he a terrible quarterback? He floats backwards on almost every play, adding at least 10 yards to every pass, and took four big sacks and a heck of a lot of hurries. Osi Umenyiora had a nice game in his return, forcing a fumble as per usual, and Antrel Rolle had a pretty interception over the top on a long pass to Fitzgerald. This was a game where the Giants defense did just enough to win a tough game on the road, especially when they clamped down on the final possession – which made me start clapping and yelling so loud that the nine other people in TGI Fridays stared nervously before returning to their food.
Do not go to the TGI Fridays in Penn Station.
Next week, the Giants defense will try to bring down the surprisingly frisky Tarvaris Jackson, who is coming off a career day in a loss to Atlanta. The Seahawks always look better at home, but on the East Coast they should be eminently beatable. The Giants need to win the games they are supposed to win if they want to sneak into the playoffs this year, especially with Dallas and Philly both losing in ugly fashion this week and with the Redskins heading into their bye week.
The Jets have the lovely privilege of trying to right the ship against the red hot Patriots, in Foxboro. New England is having a pretty scary year, in that their offense is scary good and their defense is scary bad. I somehow don’t think the Pats are returning four touchdowns against the Jets, no matter what happens. Sanchez should be able to put up some nice stats against a bad D, but it will be up to the Jets defense to slow down Tom Brady and Wes Welker. Don’t get it twisted: the Jets had a solid game defensively, for the most part. But Joe Flacco is no Tom Brady, as a quarterback or as a handsome gentleman. It’s the eyebrows.