Giants TE Jeremy Shockey breaks away from S Eric Coleman during the Giants' 13-7 win on Friday.
Though rivalries are often seeded in fan bases rather than in the players themselves, the exact opposite was true at Friday night’s Jets vs. Giants game. While many seats at Giants Stadium remained empty throughout the game, the play on the field was emotionally charged as four personal fouls were handed out in the first half.
The most emotional player on the Jets squad seemed to be cornerback Justin Miller. Miller’s strong play and tight coverage drew frustration from Giants wide out Plaxico Burress. Burress was whistled for two personal fouls, both aimed at Miller. First, Burress received a 15-yard penalty for shoving the Jets corner after an incompletion about five minutes into the game. The wide receiver was later flagged for grabbing Miller’s facemask on safety Eric Coleman’s interception return.
Miller’s intensity also worked against the team, however, as the Clemson alum picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting after an incomplete pass on 2nd and goal from the 8. This gave the Giants an automatic first down and ultimately led to a one-yard touchdown run by Giants tailback Brandon Jacobs for the first score of the game.
“When you make a penalty that changes things from them getting three points to them getting that score, that’s frustrating,” Miller said. “I have to work on keeping my emotions under control.”
The intensity was there, but the offensive play from both teams was certainly not awe-inspiring. Neither team was able to establish a rhythm as drive after drive failed to produce points. With the first team on the field for the first half, the Jets were unimpressive.
While the squad was able to move the ball at times, the drive always seemed to sputter and stall out due to mistakes. Penalties and turnovers killed the offense throughout the first half. The closest the first team came to putting points on the board was a 49-yard field goal attempt that kicker Mike Nugent shanked off the right upright.
Newly acquired running back Kevan Barlow epitomized the Jets offensive struggles. In limited action, Barlow ran for just 11 yards on three carries and lost a fumble around midfield on a first down run to end a blossoming drive. The running back shrugged off the performance, though, chalking it up to inexperience.
“I’m still learning the offense, I really didn’t understand too much,” the ex-49er said. “Once I get the offense down I’ll be more productive.”
Left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, the fourth overall selection in April’s draft, also had a tough night. Although the first round pick succeeded in shutting down the Giants All-Pro defensive end Osi Umenyiora, he picked up two false start penalties including one as the Jets were about to attempt to convert a 4th and 1 situation. The penalty moved the team back to the Giants 33 yard line and out of field goal range. This drew the rare public ire of head coach Eric Mangini.
“When we’re jumping offsides on 4th and 1 that’s a problem,” Mangini said after the game. “That’s a focus issue, and it has to be fixed.”
Ferguson was not the only one to struggle on the offensive line. The entire unit seemed to lose any progress made in last week’s game against Washington as they were virtually inept in both pass protection and the running game.
Quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens were under pressure all night long as the line allowed five sacks on the night. Still Pennington seemed unconcerned.
“During the preseason defenses like to blitz a lot more than they regularly do,” Pennington said. “They just like to give you something to work on.”
Still, the Jets have a lot of work to do as their lone touchdown came from the special teams unit. Linebacker Darrell McClover both blocked and recovered a punt before returning it for the score.
“We have to work on finishing,” Mangini said. “Finishing plays, finishing drives, and finishing games. That’s something we didn’t do tonight.”
-Safety Kerry Rhodes gave the Jets a scare as he lay motionless on the turf for several moments after leading with his head while tackling Brandon Jacobs. Fortunately, Rhodes got up under his own power and was helped of the field by the trainers. He left the game with a headache but said he was fine after the game.
-Not everyone was wrapped up in the cross-town rivalry. Defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson and Giants quarterback Jared Lorenzen shook hands when Lorenzen entered the game. The two played their college ball together at the University of Kentucky. Robertson then sacked Lorenzen shortly thereafter.
-Although his performance Friday night was unremarkable, it appears rookie Kellen Clemens may have won the backup quarterback role as he was the only quarterback other than Pennington to play in the game. Also, the fact that Pennington played the first three quarters seems to leave no doubt he has won the starting job.
-Despite giving up 142 rushing yards, the Jets pass defense impressed Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
“The Jets did a good job of throwing some different defenses at us,” the former number one overall pick said of the first half performance. “We just couldn’t get a good rhythm.”
-G Isaac Snell (leg): day to day
-CB David Barrett (unknown): day to day
-WR Dante Ridgeway (leg): day to day
-WR/KR Tim Dwight (unknown): day to day
-RB Curtis Martin (knee): on PUP list
-C Trey Teague (ankle): on PUP list
-DT Sione Pouha (knee): IR Out for Season
-TE Jason Pociask (shoulder): IR Out for Season