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Victor Cruz's 99-yard TD still on Jets' minds

Victor Cruz runs a reception past Brodney Pool

Victor Cruz runs a reception past Brodney Pool during a game at MetLife Stadium. (Dec. 24, 2011) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

The NFL preseason has a way of muting rivalries, often rendering the trash talk between bitter foes nonexistent.

In the lead-up to Saturday's Jets-Giants preseason game at MetLife Stadium, there wasn't a whiff of irritation or a shred of contempt uttered (at least, not publicly) in Cortland. Instead, the Jets offered nothing but effusive praise for the defending Super Bowl champions.

It's far too early for there to be bad blood. But make no mistake: The Jets have not forgotten Victor Cruz's 99-yard touchdown on Christmas Eve. His game-changing score -- which was aided by three missed tackles -- remains an indelible image of not only the turning point in the Giants' 29-14 victory but of the Jets' 2011 season.

But this time around, the Jets have their own showstopper: Tim Tebow.

How they plan to use him remains to be seen, but last week's preseason loss to Cincinnati proved the backup quarterback/Wildcat facilitator can turn heads with just a limited amount of snaps.

Jets starters (save a few veterans, like Brandon Moore and LaRon Landry) likely will play a half against the Giants, an increase from their 14 plays against the Bengals. The Jets will showcase schemes similar to the vanilla offensive attack they used against the Bengals, according to Rex Ryan.

"Vanilla ice cream and maybe some sprinkles on it. How's that?" he joked Thursday, adding that he'll have "base rules" to offset the Giants' formidable pass rush.

Though Ryan's players downplayed the significance of a Week 2 preseason matchup, they agreed Saturday's showdown will be a litmus test for their new offense and highly touted defense.

And even though the Jets claimed to have moved past their crushing Christmas Eve blow, Cruz's touchdown still was on their minds this week.

"It kind of flip-flopped our seasons," linebacker Bart Scott said, referring to Cruz's third-down score, which gave the Giants a second-quarter lead. "It kind of sent us on a little spiral."

The Giants rode that momentum into the playoffs and eventually the Super Bowl, where they defeated the Patriots for the second time in four years. The Jets, on the other hand, fell apart a week later in Miami and spent the offseason rebuilding their fractured team chemistry.

Their bronzed Snoopy trophy -- awarded after they defeated the Giants, 17-3, in Week 3 of the 2011 preseason -- is the only piece of hardware the Jets have to show for last year.

"There seems to be a lot of fight when the Jets and Giants play against each other," Ryan said. "It seems a little more special than a preseason game. It's usually very physical and those are great games to watch. We'll see when we get there."

Demps joins Pats. Jeff Demps, Tebow's former teammate at Florida and an Olympic sprinter, has agreed to a deal with the Patriots. The Jets were one of several teams interested in the former Florida running back, who took silver in the 4 x 100 relays at the London Olympics. Tebow, who won a national championship with Demps in 2008, said on Thursday that the Jets had asked him about Demps, but added he only spoke to the former Gator "as a friend."

New York Sports