TALK of a Subway Super Bowl proved premature. The New York Giants are fallible, after all, while the Jets are proving a real enigma.
Nerveless in New England, titanic in Tennessee, losing big at home to the Broncos was bad enough, but they were 3.5-point favorites in San Francisco and lost by 10.
Even allowing for a questionable holding call, which ruled out a 99-yard kickoff return by Leon Washington and robbed the Jets of a 21-17 fourth-quarter lead, Gang Green was once again in disarray.
A lack of unity, highlighted by the sniping comments aimed at Brett Favre by Laveranues Coles in the San Francisco media leading up to the game, is almost as concerning as the lack of leadership by coach Eric Mangini.
Mangini is clearly no Bill Belichick. He is either unable or unwilling to change his game plan when it isn’t working. And the inability of the Jets defense to apply any real pressure to the quarterback continues to hurt them against supposedly inferior opponents.
The 8-5 Jets are now in a three-way tie for the lead in the AFC East with the Patriots and the Miami Dolphins.
They have the ideal opportunity to bounce back when fast-fading Buffalo come to town this Sunday.
That really is a “must win” game as the Jets – 0-3 on the West Coast – then have to go to Seattle before playing their final game at home to the Dolphins.
It’s all building up to a massive showdown between Favre and the man he usurped at quarterback, Chad Pennington, for a playoff place – and perhaps a divisional title – on Sunday, December 28.
Giants stumble, Jets fall from grace
Defeat for the Giants was not so costly, and perhaps not so surprising, even though they were favored by 7.5 points against the Philadelphia Eagles.
This was a much more important game for Donovan McNabb and the Eagles than it was for the Giants. And after the media circus following the Plaxico Burress shooting, they have clearly taken their eye of the ball.
The good news is that the Dallas Cowboys’ 20-13 defeat in Pittsburgh means the Giants have now clinched a playoff berth and the NFC East title.
The bad news is that they have to play in Dallas this weekend and, just as it was for the Eagles, this is a game the Cowboys simply cannot afford to lose.
With their last two games against Carolina (home) and Minnesota (away), there’s going to be no easy ride to the playoffs for Big Blue.
That’s why it is vital that coach Tom Coughlin has a week without off-the-field distractions to enable the Giants to regain their focus.
Eli Manning, normally so good at executing Coughlin’s game plan, was strangely out of sorts, along with most of his teammates.
And it was a complete mystery as to why, on a freezing cold day, the Giants went away from their usual running game.
Surely they should have learned by now of the threat posed by the Eagles multi-talented running back Brian Westbrook? Far better to let McNabb try to beat you in the air than give Westbrook the freedom of the Meadowlands.
Giants fans can only keep their fingers crossed that this was a one-off. But, as Jets supporters will testify, one bad performance can lead to two.