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There is such a thing as a moral victory in football. Yes, a loss is a loss, no matter what. But if the 2007 Giants proved anything, it’s that coming close is a step up from total implosion. They played hard against the Patriots in the final game of that regular season, and in a beautiful bit of poetic justice, they won a completely non-related game a few weeks later against the same team. Were the players convinced they could win simply because they had come so close? I leave that to Malcolm Gladwell and the other pseudo social scientists. All I know is that there’s a difference between what the Giants did Sunday, and what the Jets did Sunday night.
First of all, the Giants had no business winning their game. On the road, across the country, with a battered offense against a great defense and coming off an emotional victory: it was a classic letdown scenario. The mere fact that they were in it at the end speaks volumes to the (ugh) character of the team, and gives some hope that they will compete hard for the rest of the season and pull out a division victory. That’s the glass half-full approach.
Realistically, they lost. They’re only a game up on the Cowboys, with two games against them left, which means splitting those two games gives Dallas a puncher’s chance at the division title. Not great considering the next three games on the Giants docket: a pissed off Eagles team with their backs against the wall, and the two best offenses in the league in the Packers and Saints.
So is it great that the Giants had a chance to score while down a touchdown late? Or is it miserable that they blew a chance to score while down a touchdown late?
Truly, this was a game the Giants should have won. They kept the frisky Alex Smith in check, they didn’t give up yardage on the ground, and Eli Manning threw for 300+ yards and two touchdowns. If the Giants miss the playoffs by one game, however, this is NOT the one they’ll want back – Seattle is the one that makes me want to hit a pillow. With a truck.
Meanwhile, the Jets basically disintegrated on the big stage against a team that has been their scourge for years. There was no moral victory in this game, nor was there much to be positive about. There is just something off about the Jets on offense, and it’s been that way ever since Mark Sanchez took over. They are constantly scratching the surface, showing flashes of potential, running roughshod and then fumbling, or moving swiftly and then stalling. When Nick Folk missed an early chip shot on the Jet’s first drive, they just folded up until the defense brought them back to life with a safety on Tom Brady.
If Mark Sanchez is going to throw 39 passes in a game, complete 20 of them for 300 yards, and give up two interceptions, he is basically 2008-2010 Carson Palmer. Following in his fellow USC alum’s footsteps is kinda cute, but it will not get the Jets over the hump.
This is a team that makes mistakes with turnovers and missed field goals. This is a front office that has made mistakes – if I have to see one more shot of a dejected LaDanian Tomlinson sitting on the sideline, I’m going to puke. The coaching staff makes mistakes – how do you plays 15 defensive backs at a time against Brady and let him have essentially a perfect passing day? Moreover, the team wastes opportunities: this was the one shot they had to take control of the division and punch their own ticket to the playoffs, and they crapped the bed.
Now, they get to face the Option Church of Latter Day Tebows, a mile high above the sinners. The Jets are insanely lucky right now – if they beat Denver, they get a slumping Bills team, a terrible Redskins team, a Chiefs team that just lost their starting QB, and an Eagles team that may be starting a cockroach at quarterback. If that’s not a five-game win streak, then this Jets team is simply not good enough for the playoffs this year.
Meanwhile, the Giants are only one game better than the Jets (6-3 vs 5-4) and I feel leaps and bounds better about their playoff chances. Of course, this all means that both teams will slump and miss the playoffs, and with no NBA to fall back on, I’ll have to start watching… ugh… hockey.
I can’t watch hockey because after reading the Stig Larssen books, I simply cannot keep any more Swedish names in my head. So for my sake, and the sake of all New York football fans, both teams had better turn it around this week – or else.