This was about much more than bragging rights.
For the Jets, Sunday was about keeping their playoff hopes alive and about making a statement — not to the Giants, but to themselves.
“Once we start clicking, we have good enough players on this team, on this offense to beat anybody,” Jets running back Bilal Powell said following their impressive 23-20 overtime win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium.
Granted, there was some luck involved, too. Sure-footed Giants kicker Josh Brown was wide left on a potential game-tying 48-yard field-goal attempt in overtime — his first miss since Dec. 21, 2014.
But whenever a big-time play was needed down the stretch, it was the Jets who delivered. And in the end, it was Todd Bowles’ team that walked away victorious.
“For us to come from behind and show some grit during the season, that’s the mark of a good team,” the Jets coach said, referring to their 20-10 fourth-quarter deficit. “We finally got to that point and I’m just happy it was today.”
The Jets (7-5) overcame an early hole, a 72-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Odell Beckham, Jr. and an 80-yard punt return TD by Dwayne Harris. Meanwhile, the Giants (5-7) sank even lower in the NFC East standings.
It was the Jets’ first regular-season win over the Giants since their 10-6 victory on October, 31, 1993.
Journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick (36 of 50, 390 yards, one TD) proved to be the better quarterback on this day, compared to Eli Manning (18 of 34, 297 yards, one TD, one INT). Fitzpatrick — who has never won more than six games as a starter — connected with Brandon Marshall for the game-tying TD with 27 seconds left in regulation and Randy Bullock sealed the win with a 31-yard field goal on the opening drive of OT.
The Jets, despite all of their flaws and self-inflicted wounds, simply wanted it more.
“This is a statement game for us, as far as coming from behind and winning one,” said receiver Eric Decker (eight catches, 101 yards).
The Jets, who are still alive in a crowded race for an AFC wild-card spot, believe Sunday’s victory could galvanize them over their next four games.
“I don’t know if it’s a playoff turning point, but I hope we grew up a little bit from this game,” Bowles said. “ . . . Going forward I think it gives us a boost.”
“It was never about the Battle of New York,” said Jets safety Rontez Miles, who thwarted a potential fourth-quarter scoring drive by the Giants with a Manning interception at the Jets’ 4. “Coach Bowles said that we have bigger goals and that’s to get to the playoffs.”
Added Sheldon Richardson, matter-of-factly: “Onto the next one. We’ve got to come out and do this every week.”
The Jets defensive tackle, however, didn’t waste an opportunity to take a subtle jab at Big Brother. “They’re not a drive-down-the-field team,” Richardson said. “If they don’t get explosive plays, they’re not going to score. It’s just that simple. There’s no trick to their trade. If Odell’s not scoring or their special teams’ not scoring for them or defense is not scoring for them . . . They’re not a 12-play drive team and score a touchdown. They’re not built for that.”
So for now, the debate of who’s the best team in New York can be laid to rest.
Tweeted rookie outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin: “Who’s HOUSE?!?!? #WeRunThisCity”