By Michael Otero
And the bragging rights go to the New York Jets, at least for four years. The New York Jets defeated the New York Giants in overtime on Sunday by a score of 23-20. Going into the game, there was a lot of hoopla surrounding a possible matchup of Darrelle Revis and Odell Beckham Jr. Unfortunately, Revis didn’t live up to his end of the bargain as he was sidelined with an injury.
As the game shifted from talking about what-ifs in press conferences and interviews, the Giants were the ones who came out swinging. After the Jets got on the board with a field goal, giving them a 3-0 lead, it was Dwayne Harris who provided a spark and ignited the pro-Giant crowd at MetLife Stadium. On a punt by the Jets, Harris took it 80 yards to the house and gave his team a 7-3 lead. A few possessions later, the Giants added three points and took a 10-3 lead.
Trailing 10-3, the Jets began to get tailback Bilal Powell involved in the action. Powell on the day hauled in eight balls for 91 yards and one of those passes went for a score from 25 yards out to even things up at 10 with 3:30 left in the half. Less than a minute later, Beckham came alive. Up until that point, he had been held to one catch, (A one-handed snag over the middle that left spectators in awe), but one catch nonetheless. He found a soft spot in the Jets’ secondary and took off 72 yards to the end zone, putting the G-Men up 17-10. The Jets tried to put up points at the end of the half, but failed. In doing so, they gave the Giants enough time to add another field goal and make it 20-10 at the intermission.
The third quarter was scoreless and that looked to be a big disadvantage for the Jets who were now facing two enemies: the Giants and the clock. As the fourth quarter opened, the Giants were in the midst of a drive that spanned 11 minutes. They made a choice that will be second-guessed by many critics and decided to go for it on fourth down and two from the Jets four-yard line and forgo an almost automatic three points. Instead of going up 23-10, the Giants went for it and Eli Manning was intercepted, and the Jets suddenly had life.
On the Jets ensuing drive, they marched into Giant territory, but stalled on the six-yard line and had to settle for a field goal, which made it 20-13. On the next Giants possession, the Jets defense stepped up and forced a three-and-out. Down by a touchdown and with 2:40 left, the Jets had a chance to tie it. They started their drive from their own 29 and quickly moved the ball downfield thanks to plays from Powell and scrambles by Ryan Fitzpatrick, including a big one on fourth and six, which went for 15 yards.
With 32 seconds left, the aforementioned Fitzpatrick connected with Brandon Marshall on a fade route and the Jets evened up the score at 20, while the Giants found themselves in a familiar position. The Giants, who opened the year with back-to-back fourth quarter debacles, allowed 10 points to the Jets in the last five minutes of play.
In the overtime, the Jets drove the ball all the way to the Giants eight, but were stopped and forced to kick a field goal. With the Jets up by three and the Giants needing at least a field goal to extend the game, all the pressure fell on Manning. Manning and the offense found themselves in a critical fourth down, but were able to convert thanks to none other than OBJ who hauled in one of his six catches on the day, this one for 20 yards, all the way to the Jets 34-yard line.
A few plays later, the Jets forced the Giants to attempt a 48-yard field and Josh Brown, who hadn’t missed a kick all year, hooked it wide left, giving the Jets a thrilling victory and the Giants a deflating loss.
A lot of what fans expected to see on the field happened. Beckham had his way for the most part with the Jets defenders (he totaled 149 yards on six catches and a TD). The Jets defense was able to stuff
the run. But the big x-factor was the play of Fitzpatrick, who was 36 of 50 passing for 390 yards and two touchdowns. He also accounted for 22 yards on the ground and a couple key first downs, which extended drives.
You can point to multiple spots in the game where the tide began to switch in favor of the Jets, but Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin needs to take blame for his decision to go for it on fourth down in the fourth quarter and not take three points and go up 23-10. If you kick the field goal, you go up by 13 points and the Jets are now forced to score two touchdowns in a matter of eight minutes and change instead of a touchdown and a field goal. That was the turning point of the game.
As it stands right now, the Jets are 7-5 and are right in the thick of things in a crowded AFC Wildcard picture. The Giants sit at 5-7 and are still in contention in the NFC (L)East. Both have put themselves in position to play meaningful games in December and hopefully playoff games in January.