The loss, depending on tomorrow night’s Washington-Dallas tilt, will likely spell doom for a Giants (5-7) squad that couldn’t afford many more losses on the season. The Jets (7-5), meanwhile, are still in the AFC’s Wild Card race following a riveting comeback.
Randy Bullock became the hero, while the Giants’ placekicker Josh Brown became the rare goat, as the former drilled his 31-yard field goal in overtime, while the latter hooked his attempt wide left. Brown, who had converted a franchise-record 29-straight field goals until that point, missed a 48-yard attempt that would’ve extended the contest.
Brown’s mishap aside, the real culprit was Big Blue’s inability to close out an opponent when it needed to most. That inability has been the bane of this season’s existence, as the Jets erased a 20-10 deficit in the fourth quarter and seemingly sucked the life out of the Giants with a late touchdown by Brandon Marshall, and then the eventual game-winning kick by Bullock.
The Jets should certainly be lauded for their perseverance and ability to not let a double-digit margin affect them, but the Giants dug themselves numerous holes in the final quarter to allow the door to stay ajar. The Giants' run game is just horrible, as they failed to run out the clock with 4:24 remaining in the final quarter, as they could only muster two rushes for four yards, which ended in a three-and-out, and set the tone for the Jets’ heroics.
The leading rusher for Big Blue was Orleans Darkwa, who could only muster 23 yards on eight carries. The lack of a running game could easily be pointed to as a major reason why the Giants have failed numerous times to close out games when holding on to late leads. Putting the pressure on Eli Manning and his receivers each week has put a drastic strain on the offense.
Manning was serviceable (18-of-34 for 297 yards, one touchdown, and one interception), but he needed more help in facing one of the league’s elite defenses.
The Jets’ top-ranked run defense was stellar again, and forced the Giants’ offense to stay one-dimensional for the entire game. The turning point was Jets’ safety Rontez Miles’s fourth-down interception off Manning at the Jets’ three-yard line, midway through the fourth quarter, as the Giants were looking for the knockout blow and leading 20-10.
The Giants have blown a late lead in all but one of its seven losses this season. Big Blue once again treated a late double-digit lead as if it was some sort of allergenic with no cure, as they stayed away from prosperity and allowed Gang Green to march 71 yards down the field for the game-tying touchdown with seconds remaining in regulation. The Jets took it from there, as they won the coin toss, elected to receive, and proceeded to put the Giants out of their misery with a field goal that ultimately proved to be the deciding margin.
Things didn’t initially look so bleak for the Giants on the Jets’ final drive in regulation, as they forced a couple of long third-downs, and even registered a sack by Robert Ayers Jr., but they ultimately couldn’t stop Gang Green’s vastly underrated passing game from marching down in the field in both the final sojourn and overtime. Fitzpatrick was amazing on third downs, as he often bought time in the pocket before finding open receivers. It was yet another display of Big Blue’s inability to put late drives – and games -- away.
Fitzpatrick showed his mettle and was arguably the best offensive player on the field. Fitzpatrick was dominant in going 36-of-50 for 390 yards and two touchdowns, including his ability to spray the field to six different receivers. His judicious play never allowed the Giants secondary to key on just one target, as wideouts Brandon Marshall (12 catches for 131 yards, and a touchdown) and Eric Decker (eight catches for 101 yards) both did damage.
Even running back Bilal Powell haunted the Giants with eight catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. Fitzpatrick was great down the stretch in engineering the final drive of regulation and the overtime drive, particularly when he hit Decker at the Giants’ five-yard line to set up Bullock’s game-winning field goal with 8:45 remaining in the extra frame. Fitzpatrick may not have the pedigree and resume of Manning, but on this Sunday, he was by far the superior quarterback.
Not stranded on the island
The Giants had the fortune of not going against Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis (concussion), which meant Manning and Beckham could take advantage of the undermanned Jets’ secondary.
Beckham was the biggest beneficiary, as he tallied six receptions for 149 yards and one touchdown. His lone score came when Manning connected with the slippery wideout on a 72-yard score, as he caught a quick slant and split the defenders en route to racing the final 40 yards into the end zone.
- Hakeem Nicks, who rejoined the team two weeks ago, passed Ike Hilliard for eighth place on the franchise’s all-time receiving yards list.
- Beckham registered his second-straight season with at least 10 touchdowns. He also tied a franchise mark with five-straight 100-yard games (Homer Jones, 1967-68 seasons). And now has more catches in his first two seasons 169 than anyone in NFL history.
- Manning passed Hall of Famer Dan Fouts for 11th place in all-time passing yards.
- Dwayne Harris took Ryan Quigley’s 55-yard punt for an 80-yard touchdown on the opening play of the second quarter. It was the sixth return touchdown by the Giants this season. He became the first Giant to have both a punt and kick return since Jimmy Patton did it in 1955.
- Marshall became the first player in NFL history with 1,000 yards in a single season for four different franchises (Denver, Miami, Chicago, and now New York).