EMPIRE STATE PROUD

A lot of people try to label the Jets- Giants as this huge rivalry. Fact of the matter is they meet only once every four years in the current NFL schedule alignment. Yes they play in the same stadium and share the same newspapers and sports talk radio stations and so on and so forth. But it is truly no different from any other game on the schedule to the players on the field. The majority of these players in this game were not on the field in 2011, the last time they met. And the majority of the players in yesterday’s game will not be on the field in 2019 when they meet again. But to the fans of these teams it is more than any other game. And for the first time in 22 years, the New York Jets fans can walk around proudly after a hard-fought 23-20 overtime victory.

The New York Giants held a 20-10 lead and had a first and ten on the Jets 12 yard line with 9 minutes to play in the game. The sequence ended up coming down to a fourth down and 2 on the four yard line for the Giants. And this is where the game turned. I do not blame Tom Coughlin for going for it. I truly believe it is a 50-50 call right there. The first down and/or touchdown would basically end the game at 27-10. The field goal puts you up 13 and makes the Jets have to score two touchdowns. It is a tossup call and when you have Eli Manning and Odell Beckham who seem to always find magic, it is hard to not have the ball in their hand, rather than the Giants defense, who we have all seen collapse multiple times this year late in games.

As it turns out the Jets got the stop (an interception) and took control of the ball with just over 8 minutes left on their own ten. From there the Jets seemed to gain every bit of momentum, got the break they needed and it felt like they said to themselves we are not going to lose. They marched down the field and stalled at the 8 and kicked a field goal to make it 20-13. (They would have been forced to go for it on fourth down had the Giants kicked the field goal earlier). The Giants took over and the Jets defense got another crucial stop and the ball back in the hands of the Jets offense.

The Jets took over at their own 29 yard line. 71 yards away from the end zone and 2 minutes and 34 seconds seemingly left in their season. Their backs could not be more to the wall and the Jets proceeded to march down the field. Ryan Fitzpatrick made big connection after big connection, including taking off and running on a 4th and 6. He connected with Brandon Marshall to tie the game in the final seconds and forcing OT.

The Jets went down the field and settled for a field goal in the initial possession of overtime. The Giants came back down and were forced to try a 48 yard field goal that sailed wide left. Capping off what was just a surreal turn of events from the 9 minute mark of the fourth quarter. The Jets had three drives after the crucial fourth and two. Three drives, for a total of 35 plays and 212 yards to save their season.

Big picture for the Jets is all this win did was keep them in a very tight three-way tie for the last two wild card spots. But without it they were all but done. But for the fans of the New York Jets, who have had to endure being a second class citizen in their own town, it meant a lot. I am sure wherever you watched this game as a Jets fan, Giants fans were sure to remind you that you have not won a Super Bowl in 46 years. I know I was reminded. And yes this win doesn’t erase the Giants proud Super Bowl tradition, or change anything about the disastrous seasons of Jets past. And yes the Jets will always be the second team in New York. But for one day the Jets and their fans can stand tall and walk proud. And we can all look up and see the bright lights of the Empire State Building glistening in green and white.

– Rob DiToma