It was the best of times and it was the worst of times depending on where your office is located in the New Meadowlands Stadium. Going into Sunday’s games, the Jets and the Giants were heading in opposite directions, The Jets were marred with controversies, in-house drama and a two game losing streak. The Giants, on the other hand, were riding into their NFC East showdown with the Eagles on a wave of momentum. The funny thing is that both team’s fortunes would drastically change by the end of the day.
With the Giants leading the Eagles 24-3 at the half, I felt that this game was in the bag. I know that Michael Vick is an explosive talent, but there was nothing I witnessed during the first half that would indicate that he could lead Philadelphia back from that
large deficit. Big Blue’s defense had frustrated the QB to the point they rendered him ineffective up until intermission. Then the offense could not be stopped especially the Eli Manning-Mario Manningham combination as the duo connected on two first half
TDs. All was well in the Land of the Giants.
I had another photography engagement later on that evening so I used the lopsided score as an excuse to leave early. I even turned off the game on the radio when I heard that Kevin Boss scored another TD giving the Giants a 31-10 lead in the final stanza. I figured there is no way the Eagles are coming back in this game especially the way the defense was playing. Then at the reception that I was photographing, I saw a friend that knew I was a huge Giants fan. Instead of beaming with pride or the look of “Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward Men”, he looked as though someone just ran over the family pet. He looked at me and said, “Can you believe the Giants lost that game?” I almost dropped $4,000 worth of camera equipment on the spot.
Michael Vick led one of the more incomparable comebacks in NFL history as the Eagles scored 28 unanswered points in the final eight minutes of the game to pull out a 38-31 victory.
One can try to pin this on the defense, although after watching the game highlights, all I could say is that this was a collective effort. Yes the special teams unit should have been on side kick-alert after Philadelphia scored making it 31-17. It would have been nice if
the offense could have earned a couple of first downs in the final seven minutes of the game. Do you think that punter Matt Dodge could have kicked the ball anywhere except in the vicinity of the most dangerous return guy, DeSean Jackson, who scored on a muff
punt return to the win the game? No one person or unit lost this game, each unit had its share in this mess.
The team must let the fans dwell on this most gut wrenching defeat. If they beat Green Bay next week, they will still clinch a wildcard berth. They can not worry about squandering a chance to win the division title. They must keep their eyes on the prize and
that is the playoffs where anything can happen.
After the Jets lost to the Dolphins last week, the playoffs appeared to be a mirage out on the horizon. They got their heads handed to them by the Patriots and they followed that abomination with a lack luster performance against the Miami at home. During that two-game stretch, they failed to score a touchdown and many were openingly questioning Mark Sanchez’ ability to lead this team, including his head coach.
According to most in the “Gang Green Nation”, the sky was falling considering that they were heading to Pittsburgh where the franchise has never won. Guess what, unlike most Jets squads of the past, this current one has, not only a little bit of luck, but a sense of urgency. If they ever needed a win, this was it and they came away with a 22-17 victory when most experts considered them road kill in this contest.
They did not dominate the contest by any stretch of the imagination. However, Sanchez showed that he could execute and lead his team in the nastiest of conditions. The kid is 5-
1 on the road this season and has two road playoff victories on his resume.
I have said from day one what has impressed me the most about Sanchez is his resiliency. He could have a bad half and bounce back to lead his team back down the stretch, like those four come from behind games this season. He could have a string of poor
games and still win a big game, like he did on Sunday. If offensive coordinator Brian Shottenheimer would play to this kid’s strengths, maybe the offense could consistently move the chains.
The defense, although not as dominant as a year ago, still has the ability to hold opponents down. If they can erase the memory of the New England ambush, I feel they still have the ability to hold their own against any one of the potential playoff teams
including Belichick’s Boys.
What a difference a day makes. On Saturday the Giants were on top of the world while the world was on top of the Jets. Twenty four hours later, both team’s perspectives were reversed. Neither squad has a chance to win their respective division crowns, but both should make the playoffs where anything can happen.