A bad interception by Eli Manning. What turned out to be a bad call by Tom Coughlin. A tremendous comeback victory for Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets. A devastating loss for the Giants.
Fitzpatrick hit Brandon Marshall with the tying touchdown with 27 seconds left in regulation, and a 31-yard field goal by Randy Bullock on the first drive of overtime held up as the Jets rallied from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to shock the Giants, 23-20, Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The Jets (7-5) have won two in a row. The Giants (5-7), who were the home team for the first meeting between the teams since 2011, lost their third straight.
The game ended when Josh Brown’s 48-yard field-goal attempt with 6:33 left in overtime was wide left. It was Brown’s first miss of the season, and he had made 29 in a row dating to last December.
The Giants were more desperate than the Jets for the victory. Perhaps that’s why Coughlin, with a 20-10 lead, decided to go for the jugular by going for it on fourth-and-2 from the Jets’ 4 with less than nine minutes left in regulation.
A chip-shot field goal would have meant a 13-point lead. Coughlin wanted more.
But Eli Manning (18-for-34, 297 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) threw a bad back-foot interception to Rontez Miles — he was trying to squeeze the ball into a double-covered Rueben Randle — and the Jets took over at their own 14.
“I like the call,” Manning said. “I think it’s the right call. We’ve got to execute.
Said Coughlin: “I stand by it.”
Fitzpatrick (36-for-50, 390 yards, 2 TDs) drove the Jets to the 6 before Bullock’s 24-yard field goal made it a seven-point game.
After a three-and-out by the Giants, the Jets took over at their own 29. Ten plays later, Fitzpatrick hit Marshall (12 catches, 131 yards) in the left corner of the end zone from 9 yards out. After the extra point, the score was tied at 20.
Earlier in the drive, Fitzpatrick scrambled for 15 yards on fourth-and-6 from the Giants’ 36. The Giants’ 32nd-ranked defense could not get the stop it needed to secure the win. And the Jets stepped up when they had to.
“I think it was a great team win,” Fitzpatrick said. “There was always a great belief in the huddle that we could win this thing.”
Despite the players on both teams saying all week it wasn’t a rivalry game, the hitting on the field screamed otherwise. Cullen Jenkins flattened Fitzpatrick. Sheldon Richardson leveled Odell Beckham Jr. 11 yards downfield in coverage. Jason Pierre-Paul was getting licks in all over the field.
Plus, there was an air of overall chippiness. The Jets’ bench was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in the second quarter when injured guard Willie Colon was penalized for jawing with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Beckham drew a delay- of-game penalty when he kicked the football 30 yards after missing a possible touchdown pass in overtime.
It was 10-10 when Beckham (six catches, 149 yards) caught a pass over the middle and ran 72 yards for a touchdown with 2:13 left in the first half. The Giants added a field goal with 34 seconds left to take a 20-10 lead into halftime. It held until late in the fourth quarter, when Coughlin tried to extend the lead to 17 points instead of 13.
“I have made a decision to be very aggressive at the end of the games,” Coughlin said. “I’ve done it all year long. I don’t have a lot to show for it.”
Beckham, who wowed the crowd with another one-handed catch in the first quarter courtesy of a Manning overthrow, had an impact on the game even when he didn’t touch (or kick) the football.
On the first snap of the second quarter, Dwayne Harris returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown and a 7-3 Giants lead. It wasn’t just a terrific return; it was also the result of a little Giants chicanery.
Harris set up for the punt with Beckham also back and to his right. The Jets’ coverage men were sufficiently distracted by the threat of Beckham ending up with the ball via a lateral to help Harris get free for his second return touchdown of the season. The first was a 100-yard kickoff runback against Dallas on Oct. 25.
The Giants increased the lead to 10-3 on Brown’s 20-yard field goal with 8:58 left in the half. The Jets tied it at 10 after Bilal Powell went 25 yards for a touchdown on a catch-and-run with 3:30 left in the half.
That was all the Jets could muster until the fourth quarter and overtime, when they outscored the Giants 13-0 and got to celebrate on their home field as the visitors.
“We kept fighting,” coach Todd Bowles said. “The guys kept fighting. The guys believed.”