Jets reserves can’t hold lead as Giants Beat Gang Green in first game at the New Meadowlands Stadium
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – This was the night New York football fans were looking forward to, the Jets and the Giants finally got to christened their new stadium. With all the extra hype and attention being payed to this game it was easy to forget it was just a preseason game, but by the start of the second quarter that fact couldn’t of been more clear to anyone still left in the stadium.
Giants QB Eli Manning walked away from this sack bloodied but his team walked out with a 31-16 win over the Jets. (JetsInsider.com Photo)
The past couple of weeks, the Jets have dominated the NFL headlines. Whether the talk was about the All-Pro holdout, Darrelle Revis, Rex Ryan’s, “foul,” language or the war of words between the two NY teams leading up to the game, if you wanted to hear any football news, you had to deal with hearing about the Jets.
The stadium is no longer called Giants Stadium, the two teams now rightfully split ownership of the stadium, but today all you saw was green plastered everywhere. The stadium is gigantic with the most up to date technology possible and it is an extremely pleasant sight to see in person, but forget the specs of the stadium, they did play a football game tonight.
The Jets defense was amped up and ready to go from the opening whistle and they showed it by causing a three and out on the Giants first drive. The Giants tried to establish the running game, but Kris Jenkins broke through the Giants offensive line disrupting Bradshaw’s path, knocking him back into Bryan Thomas’s arms as Thomas made the tackle for a four-yard loss. The next two passes where incompletions from Eli Manning forcing the Giants to punt, with the Jets taking over on their own 45.
Jets fans had to love what they saw in their defense with the first drive, but they had to hate what they saw on Mark Sanchez’s first pass of the game even more. After a one-yard carry by Shonn Greene, Sanchez tried to squeeze a pass, through two defenders and, into L.T.’s hands. The pass was just behind L.T. and got deflected in the air for Antrel Rolle to calmly run under the ball and return the pick for 59-yards the other way before being tackled by Dustin Keller at the Jets three yard line. The Giants were determined to run the ball into the end zone and finally succeeded, on the third attempt after being shut down the first two tries, as Brandon Jacobs scored a one-yard touchdown to put the first points on this new scoreboard, giving the Giants a 7-0 lead.
Jets fans might of got a little sick to their stomach after watching that first play considering they have spent the entire offseason listening to reports about Sanchez’s progress, but the proof of those reports was shown in how Sanchez bounced back and finished the half.
Sanchez said, “I don’t think you could script a worst start on your first play of your second season, but you know what? Sometimes those things happen, it wasn’t the best ball in the world to L.T…. I put it on his back shoulder kind of, and I got to lead him with the ball. Especially balls like that over the middle, numbers and lower so they don’t get tipped up.” Sanchez went onto say, “We battled back and I was proud of our effort. I think maybe last year I would of been upset and down in the dumps, and you know this year it was easy to just turn around and say you know, no big deal let’s get it back.”
And battle back he did and it started on the very next drive. Sanchez came back with a nice easy rollout pass to Dustin Keller for a nine-yard gain. After a couple of bruising running plays from Shonn Greene, of six and seven-yard gains, Sanchez calmly dropped back and threw the ball into the outstretched fingers of Cotchery for a seven-yard pick up and a first down. Sanchez hit L.T. on a check down pass that L.T. took and scampered to the four-yard line with and on the next play Sanchez hit Brad Smith on a quick wide receiver screen for a four-yard touchdown, thanks to some blown coverage from the Giants.
Sanchez played the entire first half and after that nightmare first pass, he ended his night with some impressive numbers, finishing 13-17 for 119 yards, one touchdown and one pick. Shonn Greene ran the ball extremely well tonight on limited carries, five carries for 26 yards, and L.T. had a nice game catching the ball out of the backfield, proving he will be a valuable and dangerous weapon for Sanchez to utilize.
The Jets first team defense most definitely showed up as they held the Giants to just 12 first-half rushing yards and only 85 yards passing and one quarterback knockout, leaving Eli Manning beaten and bloodied. On a 3rd down play in the second quarter, Manning dropped back to pass the ball, as there was a miscommunication between him and Jacobs and Jacobs jumped in Manning’s way, knocking the ball out of his hands and knocking Manning off balance and into the charging Calvin Pace as Pace cracked Manning from the back. Knocking Manning’s helmet off and his face into Jim Leonard’s Facemask, which opened up a nasty three-inch gash on his forehead which ended his night requiring 12 stitches.
Kyle Wilson and Antonio Cromartie did a good job of hiding the fact that Revis wasn’t in the building, but once that second string defense came in you really started to see how Revis’ absence sends ripple effects through the Jets depth chart. Ryan said, “You got to tip your hat to the Giants, they did a much better job than we did in the second half. I thought our starters played about the way we expected to play….I was really happy with the way the first defense played, but as happy as I was with the way our ones played, I was totally disappointed with the way our twos played… These are some guys that we are counting on to give us good depth and guys that are going to have to play and we got whipped by them.”
What Ryan was talking about was the way Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz just ate up the Jets second team secondary, finishing the night with seven catches for 145-yards and three touchdowns, beating Dwight Lowery twice and Drew Coleman once. Cruz repeatedly blew past defenders getting two deep touchdowns, one from 34-yards out and the biggest play, for 64-yards.
Ryan clearly wasn’t happy with the second team’s performance, but he made sure to give the proper players their due credit. Ryan said, “I was mentioning to Coughlin, I don’t know who this, number three is (Cruz) but he is pretty darn good. So I hope they cut him, I know one team that will be ready to sign him and that’s us.”
The Jets kept their starters in longer than the Giants, as promised, yet longer than expected as they played almost the entire first half and the Jets won the first half, 13-10. The second half was all Giants as Cruz took over scoring three second half touchdowns
Center Nick Mangold sat out the game tonight for the Jets with a headache, nothing serious just a cautionary move, “better safe than sorry.” Ryan said.
Kellen Clemens checked in as the Jets second quarterback of the game, which was surprising at first considering the Jets have already declared Brunell as the number two, but there was some thought that maybe the Jets were giving Clemens a try-out for other teams, if that is the case he might of impressed somebody as he finished 7-10 for 84 yards. Brunell was only 1-3 for 14 yards and Kevin O’Connell had a rough night going 8-13 for 70 yards and two picks, the first being a terrible ball he just chucked in the air on his first pass.
Jets safety Eric Smith made a strong impression, delivering a couple bone crushing hits and getting his hands on a punt to give the Jets excellent field position in the first half.
Nick Folk was 3-4 on field goal attempts, including two makes from 36-yards, one from 22 and a miss on a 46-yard field goal.
The Jets have a quick turn around as they have to travel to play Carolina next and that played a part in Ryan’s decision to play the first team so long. He says the first team will be very limited in the Carolina game because of the short week, so he wanted to give them some extra work tonight. It is still just preseason so the loss is easy to write off, but there has to be plenty of Jets fans out there wishing Ryan kept his starters in the whole game just to beat the Giants, either way the first preseason game is over. Which means the games that actually count on the scoreboard are less than a month away.