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Saturday, December 24, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Giants 29, Jets 14

By Dan Graziano


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' potentially season-saving 29-14 victory over the New York Jets on Saturday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.

What it means: A couple of things. First, it means next Sunday's game between the Giants and the Dallas Cowboys here at MetLife will decide the NFC East. The winner advances to the playoffs as division champ. The Cowboys could theoretically still make it as a wild card if they beat the Eagles this afternoon, but the Giants' only way in is to win the game and the division. This Giants win also means that the Philadelphia Eagles are, at long last, eliminated from contention for this year's postseason.

Toughening up: In their previous five games, the Giants had allowed opponents to convert 54 percent of their third downs. But in this game, the Jets were a miserable 4-for-21 on third down. The Giants' coverage in the secondary was drastically improved in this game, and they were able to generate enough pressure to rattle Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and disrupt a surprisingly pass-heavy Jets offensive game plan. The offense played its second straight shaky game, but this time the defense was able to bail it out by making a few big stops.

The big play: The Jets were manhandling the Giants on defense in the first half, but with a little more than two minutes left before halftime, Eli Manning completed a 99-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz that put the Giants on top 10-7. It was the play of the game and possibly, as it turns out, the Giants' season, as it sent the Jets into the halftime locker room demoralized and apparently determined to throw the ball to make up for it.

Touchy at the end: The Giants appeared to have the game locked up when they recovered a fumble in the end zone at the end of a long Jets drive. But even though they were up 20-7, they came out throwing, and Manning threw an interception on the first play that the Jets would later convert into a touchdown. The Jets got the ball back at their own eight-yard line with 2:24 left, but the Chris Canty sacked Sanchez in the end zone for the safety that sealed the Giants' win.

What's next: The Giants host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday here at MetLife Stadium in the game that will decide the division title.