This did not resemble the days gone by.
This was not a playoff game, let alone a Super Bowl.
Or Super Bowls.
Yes, the Giants and Patriots squared off on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The final score: Giants 10, Patriots 7.
There were no cameos by Eli Manning or Tom Brady.
What was there? Drama, at least in the final seconds.
The game seemed ticketed for overtime when the Patriots lined up for a potential tying 35-yard field-goal attempt with six seconds remaining.
What was Giants coach Brian Daboll thinking in that moment?
“Thinking of the coin toss,” he said. “You’ve got to make a decision on what you want to do in overtime.”
But Chad Ryland's kick sailed wide left.
“And then you take your headset off and shake the other coach’s hand,” Daboll said.
The other coach, of course, is the one constant in these Patriot-Giants battles: Bill Belichick.
Heading into their bye week, the Giants (4-8) could celebrate. The Patriots fell to 2-9, and the teams' epic battles in two Super Bowls after the 2007 and 201 seasons are just a distant memory.
This was a regular-season game that featured a backup quarterback (Bailey Zappe), a benched quarterback (Mac Jones) and an emerging undrafted rookie free agent who has some moxie to him, to say the least: Tommy DeVito.
The Giants would not have won without three interceptions, two of which set up their 10 points.
“Too much poor ball security on offense,” Belichick said. “Turned the ball over too many times. Got away from us. We had a few times we didn’t turn it over and missed opportunities at the end of the game to put it into overtime. So, not good enough. Sloppy on the ball security.”
With 12:31 left, Zappe, who replaced Jones to start the third quarter, was intercepted by Xavier McKinney, who returned the ball 18 yards to the New England 32-yard line.
The Giants got as far as the 17 but stalled, thanks in part to a holding penalty on Hodgins, prompting some boos from the rain-dampened crowd. They had to settle for a 42-yard field goal by Randy Bullock to make it 10-7 with 8:10 left.
The scoring drive featured seven plays that gained a total of eight yards, but it was enough to turn into the game-winning drive.
The Giants' only touchdown also was set up by an interception. The Patriots drove 69 yards to the Giants' 23, but on third-and-4, under heavy pressure from Isaiah Simmons, Jones — rather than taking the sack — tossed the ball right to Bobby Okereke, who made the easy interception and returned it 55 yards to the Patriots' 26.
On third and 10 from the 12, DeVito targeted Hodgins, who broke a tackle by stiff-arming Jonathan Jones to the turf at the 8 and barely got into the end zone inside the left pylon, upending an unaware security guard in the process. It was Hodgins' only target of the game, and the Giants took a 7-0 lead with 1:53 remaining in the second quarter.
The Patriots got even with 8:02 remaining in the third quarter on a 7-yard touchdown run by Rhamondre Stevenson.
From there the question was, which team, which quarterback, was going to make a mistake.
The key for the Giants? DeVito didn’t. He has thrown six touchdown passes and only one interception in his three starts despite being sacked 20 times.
“Tommy’s having fun,” Daboll said. “I think he’s got a great mentality. He enjoys himself out there. He’s serious when he needs to be. For a young undrafted rookie, he’s worked extremely hard since OTAs. With the defensive guys, he's out there dancing with the show team this week. He’s got a little moxie to him in terms of personality, and there’s a long ways to go. He’s done his job, for the most part, the way the quarterback has to do his job to help us. Obviously, we want to score more points, no question about it, but there’s a lot of things that go into that, too. We all have to keep doing our job and doing it as well as we can.”
Both teams were struggling badly on offense, and it seemed a big defensive play would be needed. The Giants got it when Xavier McKinney stepped in front of a Bailey Zappe pass and returned it to the New England 32 with 12:31 left. That set up Randy Bullock’s 42-yard go-ahead field goal.