By Mike Lalor, Contributing Writer
Week 13: Battle of the Meadowlands
In a pivotal Week 13 game for both New York / New Jersey area teams this Sunday at 1pm, the New York Giants (5-6) will host their fellow MetLife Stadium tenants, the New York Jets (6-5). Coming off a disappointing 20-14 defeat at Washington, the Giants no longer control their destiny in the NFC East and are in a virtual must-win situation. The Jets are locked in a tight AFC Wild Card race with Kansas City (6-5), Pittsburgh (6-5), Houston (6-5), and Buffalo (5-6) – so for them, the game is equally important.
Where to watch: This game will be seen locally in the New York / New Jersey area on CBS, and across the country on DirecTV CH 708. Veteran football and basketball play-by-man Ian Eagle will handle the call, with his Hall of Fame analyst, former Chargers QB Dan Fouts. Evan Washburn will support the broadcast on the sidelines.
All Time Series: The Giants lead the Jets in the regular season series between the teams, 8-4.
Since 1969, the Giants and Jets have played annually in the preseason, usually in Week 3. In 1969, during their first preseason meeting, the Jets – coming off their win seven months earlier in Super Bowl III – beat the Giants 37-14 at the Yale Bowl, in New Haven, Connecticut. The Giants, who had a string of five straight mediocre, and primarily losing, years following their last winning season in 1963, fired Head Coach Allie Sherman after this preseason game with the Jets….replacing him with former Giant RB Alex Webster. This past preseason, on August 29th at MetLife Stadium, the Jets defeated the Giants 28-18.
While the series dates back to the first year of the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, the Giants and Jets only play once every four years based on the NFL’s current inter-conference scheduling / division rotation, which started in 2002.
Let’s take a look at the previous 12 matchups:
Game 1 – Sunday, November 1, 1970 (at Shea Stadium). Giants defeat Jets, 22-10. First regular season matchup between the two intra-city rivals. The Jets and Giants truly were intra-city rivals when this all started – the Jets played at Shea Stadium then, while the Giants played their home game at Yankee Stadium. The Jets were only two season removed from their win in Super Bowl III, but were without injured starting QB Joe Namath. The Jets led 10-3 early behind backup QB Al Woodall’s TD pass to RB George Nock and a FG from K Jim Turner, but the Giants ran off 19 unanswered points, starting with a Safety. Giants QB Fran Tarkenton threw 2 TDs in the victory – one to TE Bob Tucker and the other to WR Clifton McNeil. The Giants finished the season 9-5, 2nd in the NFC East, but missed the playoffs; the Jets finished 4-10.
Game 2 – Sunday, November 10, 1974 (at Yale Bowl). Jets defeat Giants, 26-20 (OT). In 1974, the Giants played their home games at the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut while Yankee Stadium was undergoing renovation and with Giants Stadium under construction. In the second regular season game between the New York teams, the Giants took a 20-13 lead into the 4th quarter, after Giant QB Craig Morton threw a 12-yd TD pass to TE Bob Grim; Morton threw 2 TDs on the day. But, the Jets had QB Joe Namath back, and he rallied the Green, tying the game at 20 on a 3-yd TD run, where the video shows him hobbled by both of his oft-injured knees.In OT, Broadway Joe connected with RB Emerson Boozer on a 5-yd TD pass to win the game; 1974 was the first year that the NFL instituted sudden-death overtime in the regular season, and the Jets’ OT win was the first by a team under the new rules. The Jets finished 7-7; the Giants finished 2-12…as nomads awaiting a Stadium.
Game 3 – Sunday, November 1, 1981 (at Giants Stadium). Jets defeat Giants, 26-7. The first regular season game played between the Jets and Giants at the Meadowlands. Both teams were in the playoff hunt – much like in 2015. The Jets’ New York Sack Exchange, led by the front 4 of Mark Gastineau-Abdul Salaam-Marty Lyons-Joe Klecko, sacked Giant QB Phil Simms 9 times. The Jets won easily behind 4 FGs from K Pat Leahy, and a 39-yd TD pass from QB Richard Todd to WR Wesley Walker; Walker had 6 receptions for 142 yards and the TD. For the first time in their joint history, both teams made the playoffs in the same year. The Jets finished 10-5-1, and lost to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Wild Card game. The Giants finished 9-7, and defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Wild Card game; they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.
Game 4 – Sunday, December 2, 1984 (at Giants Stadium). Giants defeat Jets, 20-10.1984 was the first season the Jets played home games as a tenant of Giants Stadium; the Jets played their last season at Shea in 1983. Now coached by Bill Parcells, the Giants led wire-to-wire, evening this series at 2-2.The Giants controlled the time of possession, and ran for 169 total yards. Big Blue scored both of their TDs on the ground; a 1-yd run from RB Rob Carpenter in the 2nd quarter, and an 8-yd run from RB Joe Morris in the 3rd quarter. On the day, Morris ran 17 times for 83 yards and the TD. For the NYJ, QB Ken O’Brien threw a 32-yard TD pass to WR Johnny “Lam” Jones; TE Mickey Shuler had 11 catches for 127 yards. The Jets finished the season 7-9. The Giants finished 9-7, made the playoffs and defeated the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Wild Card game; they lost again to the eventual Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.
Game 5 – Sunday, December 27, 1987 (at Giants Stadium). Giants defeat Jets, 20-7. The Jets led 7-0 on a 14-yard TD by RB Johnny Hector, but similar to 1970, the Giants ran off the last 20 points of the game to win it. Giant QB Phil Simms threw two 2nd quarter TDs; a 12-yard TD pass to TE Mark Bavaro, and a 16-yard TD pass to WR Odessa Turner. Simms was 20-of-39 for 264 yards and the 2 TDs; Giant RB Joe Morris carried 26 times for 132 yards as Big Blue again controlled the time of possession. Both teams finished 6-9 in the disappointing strike-shortened 1987 campaign.
Game 6 – Sunday, December 18, 1988 (at Giants Stadium). Jets defeat Giants, 27-21. Arguably the most significant game – thus far – in the rivalry. Entering this game – the final regular season game of the 1988 season – the Giants were 10-5 and tied atop the NFC East with Philadelphia. The Jets were 7-7-1, and already out of playoff contention. On a cold day at the Meadowlands (game time temp: 25 degrees, with 14 mph winds), the Jets jumped ahead 13-0 behind two K Pat Leahy FGs, and a 5-yard pass from QB Ken O’Brien to TE Mickey Shuler. QB Phil Simms rallied the Giants, throwing for 3 TDs — one to WR Stephen Baker on a 5-yard TD pass before the end of the half, a 9-yard TD to Baker in the 3rd quarter, and another 9-yarder, this time to WR Lionel Manuel in the 4th, pushing the NYG out front, 21-20. But, with under a minute to play, O’Brien drove the Jets down the field and hit WR Al Toon with a game-winning 5-yard TD pass. HC Joe Walton’s Jets finished 8-7-1 and knocked the Giants out of the playoffs. Philadelphia won the Division by defeating Dallas and the Giants were officially eliminated from playoff contention when both the Rams and Vikings won their games to secure Wild Card berths.
Game 7 – Sunday, October 31, 1993 (at Giants Stadium). Jets defeat Giants, 10-6. On Halloween 1993, the Giants and Jets locked up…in a pitcher’s duel. The Giants entered the game 5-1, but both defenses played well, and the offensive units – led by Jets QB Boomer Esiason and Giant QB Phil Simms — could not muster much of an attack. The teams exchanged three FGs, and the Giants led 6-3 in the 3rd when Jet RB Brad Baxter scored the only TD of the game on a 2-yard run; Baxter had 19 carries for 71 yards. The Jets finished 8-8 under HC Bruce Coslet, who was let go at the end of the season. Under HC Dan Reeves, the Giants finished 11-5, 2nd in the NFC East, and defeated the Minnesota Vikings in a NFC Wild Card game; the Giants lost to San Francisco in the Division Round.
Game 8 – Sunday, September 22, 1996 (at Giants Stadium). Giants defeat Jets, 13-6. In a down year for both teams, the Giants and Jets linked up early in the season at Giants Stadium. In a game that saw 4 turnovers and choppy play throughout, the Giants scored the only TD of the game on a 17-yard TD pass from QB Dave Brown to WR Chris Calloway. The Giants finished 6-10, but displayed promise with a young defense that included DE Michael Strahan, LB Jessie Armstead, and CB Jason Sehorn. HC Dan Reeves was let go after the season and replaced by Jim Fassel. The Jets, led by HC Rich Kotite, finished the worst year in franchise history at 1-15. Following the season, the Jets made a deal with the AFC Champion New England Patriots to hire Bill Parcells as their HC…welcoming him back to the Meadowlands.
Game 9 – Sunday, December 5, 1999 (at Giants Stadium). Giants defeat Jets, 41-28. In the highest scoring matchup to date, Giant QB Kerry Collins threw for 3 TDs, leading the Blue to a commanding 34-7 lead midway through the 3rd quarter. Jet QB Ray Lucas – starter Vinny Testaverde was injured in Week 1 – kept battling and threw 3 TDs in the 4th quarter, including 2 to WR Wayne Chrebet, to close the gap. Collins was 17-of-29 on the day for 341 yards and the 3 TDs, with 0 INTs. Giant WR Amani Toomer had a huge day, catching 6 balls for 181 yards and 2 long TDs passes (61 yards in the 1st quarter, 80 yards in the 4th quarter). Ray Lucas was 31-of-48 for 284 yards and 4 TDs, also 0 INTs. The Giants kept their playoff hopes alive and evened their record at 6-6; they eventually finished out of the playoffs with a 7-9 mark under Jim Fassel. The Jets ended this game at 4-8, rallied to win their last four games, and finished 8-8 in Bill Parcells’ last season as HC of the NYJ.
Game 10 – Sunday, November 2, 2003 (at Giants Stadium). Giants defeat Jets, 31-28 (OT). In a wild game, the Giants took a 28-14 early in the 4th quarter on a 3-yard TD run by RB Dorsey Levens, and a 2-point conversion run by QB Kerry Collins. QB Chad Pennington rallied the Jets, throwing 2 TDs in the last 6 minutes of regulation – an 11-yard pass to WR Santana Moss and the game tying score on a 9-yard pass to TE Anthony Becht. The OT was mistake-filled, if not eventful. On the first possession of OT, the Collins – who was 24-of-40 for 302 yards and 3 TDs – drove the Giants into FG range; K Brett Conway missed a potential game-winning 39-yard FG. The teams exchanged possessions after that, and with a little over 4 minutes remaining in OT, Jet K Doug O’Brien missed a 51-yard FG. Facing a potential tie, Collins again drove the Giants down the field, and with :04 remaining, K Conway at last converted the game-winning FG, from 29 yards out. On the day, Chad Pennington was 27-of-45 for 281 yards and 4 TDs, while Moss had 10 catches for 121 yards and 3 TDs. Giant WR Amani Toomer had 6 catches for 127 yards, and 1 TD. Both teams had disappointing campaigns overall; this was the last game the Giants won in the 2003 season. They lost their last 8 games and finished 4-12. Jim Fassel was released at the end of the season, and replaced as HC by Tom Coughlin. The Jets finished 6-10 under HC Herm Edwards.
Game 11 – Sunday, October 7, 2007 (at Giants Stadium). Giants defeat Jets, 35-24. The Jets controlled play early and led 17-7 at halftime. Early in the 3rd quarter, Giant RB Brandon Jacobs scored on a 19-yard TD run to close the gap to 17-14. On the ensuing kickoff, Jets RB/KR Leon Washington returned it 98 yards to the house, for a 24-14 Jet lead. Undaunted, Giant QB Eli Manning led the Giants on consecutive scoring drives, resulting first in a 13-yard TD pass to TE Jeremy Shockey, and then in a 53-yard long distance connection with WR Plaxico Burress; the TD pass to Burress put the Giants ahead to stay 28-24. Rookie CB Aaron Ross closed out the scoring with 43-yard INT return for a TD off of Jet QB Chad Pennington. In a game that saw 5 turnovers, Pennington was 21-of-36 for 229 yards, 1 TD, and 3 INTs. Eli Manning was 13-of-25 for 186 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT in the win; RB Brandon Jacobs carried 20 times for 100 yards and the TD; WR Plaxico Burress had 5 catches, 124 yards and the TD. The Jets finished a disappointing season 4-12 under second-year HC Eric Mangini. The Giants finished 10-6 and gained a Wild Card berth in the playoffs where they dispatched Tampa, Dallas,Green Bay, en route to famously defeating 18-0 New England in Super Bowl XLII.
Game 12 – Saturday, December 24, 2011 (at MetLife Stadium). Giants defeat Jets, 29-14.The last regular season meeting between the two teams occurred on Christmas Eve 2011, with the Jets at 8-6 in playoff contention, and the Giants struggling, but still alive in the NFC East at 7-7. Trailing 7-3 late in the 2nd quarter, and backed up to their own 1-yard line on 3rd down and 10, Giant QB Eli Manning connected with WR Victor Cruz for a first down – and Cruz broke free, for an impact 99-yard TD that reversed the fortunes of both franchises. The Giants never trailed again in this game, with RB Ahmad Bradshaw scoring 2 rushing TDs in the second half. The Giants, now 8-7, won the NFC East championship the following week with a victory over Dallas in the regular season finale. The Jets lost in Miami to end a disappointing season 8-8 under HC Rex Ryan…a season that began with title aspirations after two consecutive appearances in the AFC Championship game. In the playoffs, HC Tom Coughlin, QB Eli Manning and the Giants defeated Atlanta, Green Bay, San Francisco, and won Super Bowl XLVI over New England.
So…with the backdrop now set, that brings us to Game 13 of this series.
Jets Update (6-5, 2nd AFC East). The Jets defeated the Miami Dolphins 38-20 last week, behind QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s finest performance of the season. Fitzpatrick was 22-of-37, throwing for 277 yards and 4 TDs to help keep the team’s playoff hopes alive. WR Brandon Marshall continued his excellent season, catching 9 balls for 131 yards and 2 TDs. For the season, Marshall has 71 catches for 931 yards and 9 TDs; with 69 yards, he’ll become the Jets’ first 1,000 yard receiver since WR Jerricho Cotchery in 2007. WRs Eric Decker and rookie Devin Smith also caught TDs; for Smith, it was the first of his NFL career. RB Chris Ivory ran 21 times for 87 yards, including a 31-yard TD run in the 4th quarter, to give the Jets an insurmountable, 35-7 lead.
On defense, the Jets had three sacks – 1 each from DE Muhammad Wilkerson (8.0 sacks), DE Sheldon Richardson (3.5 sacks), and LB Lorenzo Maudlin (3.0 sacks). Without CB Darrelle Revis (concussion), the secondary stepped up. Before injuring his knee, CB Marcus Williams intercepted Dolphin QB Ryan Tannehill for his 5th INT of the season, while S Calvin Pryor had 7 tackles and 1 pass defended. The Jets set a single-game franchise record by holding Miami to 12 rushing yards on 9 carries. For the season, the Jets remain #1 in the NFL against the run, allowing only 84.4 yds/game, and are 9th in the NFL in Points Allowed, permitting 20.7 pts/game.
On the injury front, CB Darrelle Revis (concussion) will be out vs. the Giants. CB Marcus Williams (knee/sprained MCL)is doubtful. LB Calvin Pace (abdominal) is questionable, as is S Dion Bailey (ankle).
Giants Update (5-6, 2nd NFC East). Coming off their Bye Week, the Giants could not capitalize on an opportunity to seize control of the NFC East, losing to Washington at FedEx Field, 20-14. Playing behind a depleted offensive line missing 3 starters – C Weston Richburg (ankle), LG Justin Push (concussion), and then, in game, RG Geoff Schwartz (broken leg) – QB Eli Manning could not find any rhythm until the 4th quarter. For the game, Manning had a frustrating outing, going 26-for-51 for 321 yards, 2 TDs, and 3 INTs. In the 4th quarter, with just over 10 minutes remaining, Manning converted a 4th-and-16 pass to WR Rueben Randle that went for 40 yards and a TD. On the next drive, Manning converted a 4th-and-2 pass to TE Will Tye for 28 yards, leading to a scintillating 21-yard connection with WR Odell Beckham, Jr. Throughout the afternoon, the Redskins elected not to double-team Beckham, Jr. and Manning targeted him 18 times; for the day ODB had 9 catches for 142 yards and the TD…and on the season, he has 72 catches for 1,005 yards and 9 TDs. The Giants were not able to generate a rushing attack behind the injury riddled offensive line, and Washington shut them down, permitting only 12 carries for 32 yards.
Defensively, the Giants hung in there against a Washington team that controlled the ball for 36 minutes, rushing 37 times for 105 yards. While the Giants did not give up many big runs, QB Kirk Cousins and the Redskins did hit a big pass….a 63-yard deep ball and TD from Cousins to WR DeSean Jackson, a long-time “Giant killer”. Cousins was 20-of-29 for 302 yards, 1 TD pass, 1 TD run, and 0 INTs. Washington won the turnover battle, 3-0…an area that New York had excelled in during the first ten weeks. The Giants did not sack Cousins, and have only 12 sacks through 11 games.
On the injury front, RG Geoff Schwartz was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve with a broken leg. FS Brandon Meriweather (knee) is out against the Jets. LB Devon Kennard (hamstring), T Marshall Newhouse (back), DE George Selvie, and TE Larry Donnell (neck) are questionable. C Weston Richburg (ankle), LG Justin Pugh (concussion), and LB Mark Herzlich (quad) were listed as probable on the Friday injury report.
What to expect…and a prediction. The Giants were disappointingly flat in Washington, and appeared to finally come off the Bye Week in the 4th quarter – which has placed them in a precarious position. Washington now controls its destiny in the NFC East, with a split in the season series with the Giants, a 3-0 division record (the Giants are 3-2), and winnable upcoming games: against a reeling Dallas squad on Monday night, at Chicago, Buffalo, at Philadelphia, at Dallas.
The Giants are challenged on both lines of scrimmage; they have not established the ability to run and their pass rush is anemic. That said, if C Richburg and G/T Pugh can return to reinforce the line and it can provide QB Eli Manning some time, the Giants may be able to exploit matchups in the Jet secondary, including: WR Odell Beckham, Jr. against CB Antonio Cromartie, and both TE Will Tye and RB Shane Vereen matched up against Jet LBs in coverage. Last week, Vereen only touched the ball 6 times (2 rushes, 4 receptions) – he needs to see the ball at least 10-12 times; the Giants should consider limiting the 4-man running back rotation to create some better rhythm in the backfield.
For the Jets, they will look to run the ball to stay balanced and set up their play-action passing; RB Ivory will attempt to build on his 766 rushing yards and 7 TDsagainst the 20th ranked Giants rushing defense. If the Jets can run the ball – much like Washington – they can control the time of possession, and keep Eli Manning and company on the sideline. In the passing game, the Jets should have opportunities against the 32nd ranked Giants pass defense; WRs Brandon Marshall and WR Eric Decker are tough matchups for the Giant secondary, especially inside the Red Zone.
The Giants will score points – they are 5th in the NFL in scoring, at 26.1 pts/game. But, so will the Jets – 7th in the NFL, at 24.7 pts/game. The Jets have a soft spot in the schedule here…the struggling Giants, Tennessee, and at Dallas in the next 3. All signs here point to the Jets….and for just that reason, the Giants will find a way to win their sixth straight in this series, 28-27 Giants, in a thriller.
Michael Lalor can be heard talking New York sports on the Spadora on Sports radio program. His blog can be read at SpadoraonSports.com.