The New York Giants picked up where they left off last year in their season opening 27-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately, it was the calendar year of 2011, when they were famously at 7-7, that they resembled and not the 2012 surge to the Super Bowl team. The New York Jets, on the other hand, skipped last season altogether in their opener, washing the bad taste of 2011 out of their system with their 48-28 romp over the Buffalo Bills.
The Giants seem to have the same issues that plagued them for much of last season. Besides a 33-yard gain by Ahmad Bradshaw, when Dallas was playing the pass and giving away yardage, the ground game was as feeble as last season's worst-in-the-league performance. David Wilson fumbled in Cowboys' territory and was never heard from again. And the offensive line couldn't open up any holes, and their pass protection was shaky. Receivers dropped passes left and right, with Victor Cruz surprisingly being the main culprit. Eli Manning had to do it himself again, much like the early part of last year. On defense, there were more broken coverages leading to wide-open receivers waltzing into the end zone (with injuries to the secondary piling up yet again). And they couldn't make key third-down stops and get off the field -- yes, just like 2011.
Tom Coughlin summed up his team's situation with these two concise quotes: "Take a bite out of humble pie." And: "There won't be any more blowing smoke up their rear ends." The Super Bowl after-party is officially over.
The Jets, on the other hand, needed a great start to the season to get everyone off their backs and to prove that the preseason is as meaningless as everyone usually thinks it is -- and to halt all the chatter about the team being a circus. They had an "I told you so" game, and they told us so with their win, while setting a franchise record for most points in a season opener in the process. And if the Jets themselves were in need of a successful opener, Mark Sanchez was, too. And he was stellar, picking apart the Bills' defense, and after his early-game interception to boot, which could have been a tone-setter but proved to be nothing more than a hiccup. Stephen Hill (two touchdowns) made an impressive debut, and Jeremy Kerley thrived as well, showing that Gang Green may not be so thin at the receiver position after all. Austin Howard was a star at right tackle, holding Mario Williams to one measly tackle and no sacks, not letting the brand-new Bill anywhere near his quarterback. The defense intercepted three passes, scored a touchdown and recovered a fumble. And the special teams was just as good as the offense and defense. The only downsides for the Jets were defending the run and running the ball themselves. And we still don't know about Tim Tebow and how he'll be utilized. He was force-fed into the game, for nine snaps, which produced 22 total yards. And he was booed by the Jet faithful.
Rex Ryan was uncharacteristically humble after the game, with no gloating or chest-thumping: "I think vindication, or chip on the shoulder, maybe that's not the right thing. We were just excited to play." The coaching staff surely pushed all the right buttons preparing their team.
But for both teams it was just one game, despite the Jets' offense looking nothing like it did in the preseason or last season for that matter and red flags and warning signs all over the place for the Giants. Things could go the complete opposite way for both this coming Sunday, though. Right now, the Jets look like a Super Bowl contender while the Giants resemble a last-place team -- of course, last season began this way as well, and we all know how that turned out for both.