The most amazing part of the less-than-amazing display of football put on by our two local clubs on Sunday is that one of them actually left MetLife Stadium feeling good about itself.
This after one of the ugliest Giants losses in some time.
And after one of the ugliest Jets wins in some time.
Each put forth an abysmal offensive showing, resulting in a game so competitive in its hideousness that it had to be extended to an overtime period to decide the victor, a game that would have been a blowout loss for either team had it faced anyone but each other.
Their defenses played a role in the ineptitude, yes, but ultimately it was the lack of functionality by both offenses that led to this back-and-forth, three-and-out, mismanaged puntfest.
One team, the Jets, emerged with a winning record and a playoff berth mathematically within their realistic sights at the midway-ish point of the season, but until each team can figure out a way to move the ball with some consistency, neither is going anywhere.
Make no mistake: The state of the sport here in the biggest market in the country is not strong. Sunday’s game was the latest and most convincing exhibit. This is what happens when a game is supposed to be for bragging rights and winds up with almost nothing worth bragging about.
Kings of New York? This day was more a condemnation of both teams than a coronation of any.
There is an axiom in the NFL that no team should ever apologize for a win, but this one felt as if it at least deserved an acknowledgment of the eyesore created by its perpetrators.
It wasn’t only the players who put forth a ghastly showing. Further torturing half the fans, the half that was considered the home crowd in a stadium that had a scattering of blue and green in the stands but mostly rain slicker yellow and pullover poncho white, is the legitimate argument that the Jets won the game only because the Giants and Brian Daboll refused to try to do so themselves.
They could have ended the whole sordid affair with 28 seconds left in regulation when they faced fourth-and-1 from the Jets’ 17. Moments earlier, Kayvon Thibodeaux had recorded what should have been a game-sealing third sack to force a turnover on downs at the 26. Leading 10-7 as the Giants had been for most of the second half, Daboll elected to try a 35-yard field goal by the usually sure-legged Graham Gano rather than attempt an offensive play that — had it gained even some forward momentum, which Saquon Barkley had been achieving for most of the fourth quarter — would have allowed them to run out the clock.
“I thought we would go for it,” Giants safety Xavier McKinney said.
That’s the aggressive way Daboll has coached for most of his career, he who was burned by Kansas City’s game-winning 13-second drive in a playoff victory over his Bills two years ago.
A made field goal would not have won the game. It would have forced the Jets to score a touchdown to win but still given them the ball back with time to do so. A long shot, sure. But a first down would have been the last snap of the game.
After explaining his thinking postgame, Daboll said: “There’s always a flip side.”
Gano, who clearly is dealing with an injury (his counterpart, Jets kicker Greg Zuerlein, said so even though Gano and the Giants would not) and who had missed a 47-yarder at the same end of the field earlier in the game, pulled this effort wide left. That gave the Jets the ball back at the 25 with 24 seconds left and needing only a field goal to send the game to overtime.
They got it. And in overtime, after a catch and a pass interference penalty against Adoree’ Jackson, they got that one, too, although not without Leonard Williams getting a finger on the football, which was not enough to dissuade it from going through the uprights.
It became, essentially, the second time in three games that the Giants were a yard short of a win.
And it became a Jets victory in a game in which they converted only two of their 15 third downs, ran for 58 yards, completed less than half their passes, allowed four sacks for a staggering 47 yards, committed the game’s only two turnovers, were flagged for nine penalties, and nearly saw their third-year, second-overall-pick of a quarterback outplayed by an undrafted rookie making his NFL debut who scored a rushing touchdown but has yet to complete a pass for positive yardage.
Eventually Zach Wilson was able to do what Tommy DeVito could not and traverse some portion of the field when it counted.
“A lot of things we have to clean up,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “Just sloppy ball all the way around. But they never ask how; they ask how many.”
After this one, we should all be asking ourselves how we’ll stomach watching the rest of these two seasons.