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Let’s get the Jets out of the way as quickly as possible: they crushed a terrible team so bad that they fired their awful coach a few hours later. Playoff dream is alive.
I have never felt sicker during an NFL game than the Sunday nightmare against the Cowboys. It trumped this year’s Patriots game, it topped every single Eagles loss for the last decade, the 49ers playoff fiasco, every Matt Dodge punt and Kurt Warner wobbler and every time Tiki Barber carried the ball and the Giants meltdown against the Ravens in the Super Bowl. It was on par with Super Bowl 42, which I’m sure every Giants fan remembers as that time the collective sphincter of every New Yorker alive remained puckered for 4 hours.
This was just brutal. At one point, I actually found myself rooting for the Giants to just lose, so that I wouldn’t have to suffer through overtime.
But they refused.
Look, for all intents and purposes, the Giants’ season ended after a tipped Eli Manning pass landed in the arms of Dallas LB Sean Lee. That was it, and everyone in the world knew it – except for the Giants, apparently.
This has been a cardiac team all season – the Cardinals game, the Seahawks game, the Patriots game, the Bills game, the Dolphins game, the 49ers game, the Eagles game and last week’s Packers game were all decided in the fourth quarter, some of them on the final play of regulation. Cris Collinsworth spent much of the fourth quarter last night extolling the late game abilities of Manning, and I have several times this year annunciated the fact that Manning will win or lose a game on the final possession like no one else in the league.
This week, he was lights out and made very few mistakes in dragging the Giants back. Last week, he was just as good and the defense let him down. The defense very nearly let him down again, but the ineptitude of the Dallas Cowboys was simply too great. There is no greater joy for me as a football fan than watching Tony Romo mess up, and he did not disappoint.
And Jason Pierre-Paul, who has been a secret known only to NY fans for the last few years and is finally getting the respect he deserves, changed the outcome of this game. I missed the Lawrence Taylor era, but I assume that watching Pierre-Paul is like watching Diet LT – he is starting to impose his will on games, and he will get better. I said in September that JPP would do just fine replacing Osi Umenyiora, who has played himself out of a contract this season, and he is doing better than fine. He just saved the Giants’ playoff hopes.
So what comes next? After such an emotional, season-saving win, do the Giants take care of business at home against a flailing Redskins team, or does Rex Grossman beat the G-Men twice in one season?
One thing is for certain – the Giants and the Jets control their playoff destiny this year, and on Christmas Eve, we will pretty much know who is moving on and who is watching the postseason at home.
Speaking of those Jets: Rex Ryan’s boys got some more help this weekend thanks to Cincinnati, Tennessee and Oakland losing, and would actually face New England in the first round of the playoffs if the season ended today. Of course, it doesn’t end today. For both teams to advance, they will still need a minimum of two more wins this season, and that NY-NY battle looms large. It is no longer make or break for both teams, but it is by far the most meaningful Jets-Giants matchup in history – both teams need that win, BAD.
There are some advantages on both sides. First, the Giants just carved up a Rob Ryan defense, and may have an OK time against Rex’s game plan especially if their two runnings backs are starting to peak at the right time. However, we all know that Hakeem Nicks will be neutralized by Darrelle Revis, so it’s going to come down to breakout star Victor Cruz against brokedown jerk Antonio Cromartie. As for the Jets, Mark Sanchez is starting to play his best football ever at the right time, accounting for four touchdowns on Sunday, and Shonn Greene is starting to catch fire like he did last season in the playoffs. A weak Giants secondary may allow Sanchez to bomb down the field, and two teams that had stellar defensive units and a lot of pride on D may end up in a shootout.
It’s going to be anybody’s game. But I can almost guarantee it’s coming down to the last possession.
Let’s just hope the Redskins roll over and the Jets stop Michael Vick next weekend. New Yorkers have suffered through some heart-wrenching football this year, and we deserve our dream matchup.
I’ll bring the barf bags.