Saturday, December 24, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Giants 29, Jets 14
By Rich Cimini
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The big-talking New York Jets sabotaged their playoff chances with a mistake-filled loss to the New York Giants, 29-14 Saturday at MetLife Stadium.
What it means: The Jets (8-7) dropped their second straight and fell a game behind the Cincinnati Bengals (9-6). They also fell into a tie with the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans. In short, they choked their brains out.
Humble pie: If the Jets played as big as Rex Ryan talks, they'd be Super Bowl-bound. But they're a mediocre team with an average quarterback, making Ryan, he of the incessant trash talking, look like the fool.
Deep freeze: Inexcusable. That's the only way to describe the Jets' offensive performance. Facing the 29th-ranked pass defense, the Jets scored on their first possession -- and then failed to score again until midway in the fourth quarter, an 11-yard drive after a takeaway. They were brutal on third down, and the Giants' pass rush wasn't a factor until the second half.
QB Mark Sanchez (30-for-59, 258 yards) struggled with his accuracy, his receivers couldn't gain consistent separation and … well, it was a mess. They should've been able to move the ball against the Giants, the league's lowest-rated third-down defense since Week 11. The Jets made them look like the Giants of Taylor, Carson and Banks.
If the Jets don't make the playoffs and they look for a scapegoat, the top candidate will be offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. This was a terrible game by Schottenheimer. He gave up on the run too early and, inexplicably, he had Sanchez in shotgun, throwing deep, on a fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter.
The offensive ineptitude afforded the defense a slim margin for error -- and it got burned.
Mark vs. Eli: This wasn't a vintage quarterback duel, that's for sure. Sanchez is supposed to be a big-game quarterback, but he took a step backward. It makes you wonder if his lingering neck injury, an apparent pinched nerve, was a factor. Either way, Sanchez will wear the goat horns. With a chance to get back in the game, he fumbled a snap at Giants' 2. It wasn’t a good snap by C Nick Mangold. Either way, they failed to execute the most basic play in football.
Tone deaf: For the second week in a row, Santonio Holmes choked. This time, he didn't get any stupid penalties, but he dropped two passes.
The play from hell: The Jets' defense dominated the first 28 minutes, limiting the Giants to only 83 yards on their first 25 plays. The 26th play was a killer -- Victor Cruz's 99-yard touchdown. Credit Cruz, who made a brilliant stop-cut on a routine, 10-yard catch, but the Jets helped him make the longest play in Giants history.
Nickel back Kyle Wilson and CB Antonio Cromartie were in the immediate area, and Cromartie whiffed. S Eric Smith tried to chase him down at midfield, but he slipped off Cruz like a snowball on a heat shield.
If the Jets don't make the playoffs, Cruz's TD and Tim Tebow's game-winning TD run in Denver -- also involving Smith -- will be remembered as the moments that wrecked the season.
Safety dance: Do the Jets miss Jim Leonhard, or what? Smith and Brodney Pool missed tackles on both Giants touchdowns. In the third quarter, Pool got trucked by Ahmad Bradshaw on a 14-yard scoring run. Pool suffered a possible concussion and was taken to the locker room. Moments earlier, Pool was late in deep help on a 46-yard pass to Cruz.
Safety has to be on their offseason shopping list.
Revis answers: Darrelle Revis is a pretty decent cornerback for a "decent" corner, as Giants WR Hakeem Nicks called him. Revis was tested, but he responded with excellent coverage, including a pass break-up in the end zone. He also caused a deflection that was intercepted by LB David Harris. Revis dominated.
What's ahead: The Jets close the season in Miami, and it won't be easy. The Dolphins, led by interim coach Todd Bowles, lost a close one, 27-24 to New England.