The Jets may have won the dog-shaped trophy they so coveted, but they also might have suffered a potentially big loss in the process.
Rookie defensive end Leonard Williams left Saturday night's 28-18 preseason win over the Giants with a knee injury. A league source said "it's possible" he suffered a bone bruise, but the Jets won't know for sure until Williams gets an MRI Monday.
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Williams -- the sixth overall pick in this year's draft -- limped off the field in the second quarter and made his way to the locker room with a member of the team's medical staff.
It initially was announced that Williams was questionable to return to the game, but the rookie never made it back.
The Jets didn't need the help of the 6-5, 302-pounder to pick apart the rival Giants. Instead, all it took was a balanced attack by Todd Bowles' team, including Antonio Cromartie's pick-6 against Eli Manning, a leaping touchdown by backup running back Zac Stacy and a 54-yard punt return for a TD by Walter Powell.
But it was running back Chris Ivory and receiver Eric Decker who got the offense rolling. Ivory rushed for 35 yards on the Jets' second drive of the game, setting the stage for an 11-yard, third-down completion to Brandon Marshall followed by an 18-yard TD pass to Decker from Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The Giants tied the score in the second quarter on a 1-yard TD run by Rashad Jennings, but it didn't take long for the Jets to regain the lead. Fitzpatrick hit a wide-open Stacy, who scampered 24 yards to the house and capped the scoring play with a head-first somersault into the end zone.
Cromartie provided one of the top highlights when he easily picked off Manning (12-for-16, 91 yards, two sacks) and ran 59 yards for the TD. The last Jet to return an interception for a touchdown versus the Giants in the preseason was safety Darrol Ray (off quarterback Scott Brunner) in 1982.
The Jets' starters played only the first half, but it was all they needed. Fitzpatrick, 9-for-14 for 127 yards and two TDs, said the win was "a step in the right direction." But he also cautioned that there's still plenty to improve upon.
Marshall echoed those sentiments, saying: "When you lose, you can't hang your head too low, and when you win, you can't hang from the rafters."
But the receiver made it clear that this was "a real game," even though it's the preseason. "When you're a competitor, any time you go out there, you better put your best foot forward. So that's why it was a real game for us."
And despite some ill-advised penalties (including two on linebacker Demario Davis on the Jennings scoring drive), the Jets' starting defense held its own and gave Manning and the Giants' offense fits.
Said Bowles: "I just feel like we made progress . . . We've got a ways to go, we know we've got our work cut out for us, but the guys are starting to jell and they did some good things."
Tom Coughlin's backups made things interesting in the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Ryan Nassib threw a 6-yard TD pass to Jerome Cunningham and connected with Julian Talley on the two-point conversion to pull the Giants to within 28-18 with 7:31 remaining, but that's as close as they would get.
The Snoopy trophy now belongs to the Jets, but questions about Williams' health remain. His role became more critical after third-year defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was suspended the first four games for multiple failed drug tests.Richardson also is awaiting additional punishment from the league after he was arrested in Missouri on July 14.