EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 16: Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants passes the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a game at MetLife Stadium on September 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
On Sunday morning, the New York Jets were on top of the world while the New York Giants were at the bottom of the barrel. But when the day was over, the two teams flip-flopped emotions, with the Panic-O-Meter now leaning toward the Jets' shade of green this week. The two quarterbacks were the symbols of each team, with Eli Manning recovering from a dreadful first half and putting on a show for the ages to finish, while Mark Sanchez and his offense went the opposite route, going from a first-drive success to having to go back to the drawing board. We'll start with the bad, move on to the good and end with the ugly.
The Jets' raging optimism was tempered a bit after their 27-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. To their credit, though, they didn't do much bragging or boasting or get too full of themselves after their Week 1 victory. And that includes the king of braggadocio, Rex Ryan. Things certainly began well for the Jets, as they picked up where they left off against the Buffalo Bills, with Sanchez going 4-for-5 on their opening drive, throwing for 80 yards and capping it off with a Santonio Holmes touchdown. After a field goal on their second drive, it was six straight punts, with Sanchez going 6-for-22 for 58 yards after the touchdown. Did the brutal hit by Steeler linebacker Lawrence Timmons have anything to do with it? The performance by the receivers was night and day compared to the opener (where was Holmes after that first drive?), as was the special teams, with Jeremy Kerley muffing a punt. Like the Giants last week, the Jets had issues with third downs on both sides of the ball. LaRon Landry was out of control, hit with personal fouls on consecutive drives, both ending in Steeler touchdowns. The Jets surely missed Dustin Keller and Darrelle Revis, but Pittsburgh didn't have the services of Troy Polamalu and James Harrison. Garrett McIntyre did a nice job filling in for Bryan Thomas, though, collecting a pair of sacks. And the Jets are still unsure of what to do with Tim Tebow. He came in for a measly three plays, gaining 22 yards on a run, and then handed off twice. With the offense going nowhere in the second half, that may have been the time to see how effective he could be. At any rate, Ryan summed up the loss.
"They outexecuted us," he said. "They did a much better job than we did in all phases, including coaching."
For the Giants, Eli Manning put in yet another all-time, big, clutch, huge, whatever-you-want-to-call-it performance, after he dug himself and his team a 14-point hole thanks to his three interceptions, and pulled out a 41-34 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was a game of redemption for many on Big Blue. Manning redeemed himself in the span of 60 minutes himself, going from goat to hero, with his 510 passing yards and three touchdown passes (and 604 total yards for the offense). The offensive line chipped in with a turnaround game, not allowing a sack and also opening holes for the surprising, where-did-that-come-from performance of Andre Brown, who gained 71 yards on 13 carries, scored the winning touchdown and also crossed the goal line on the crucial two-point conversion. The duo of Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks also redeemed themselves after their poor outings in the Dallas loss. Cruz (11 catches, 179 yards) was able to honor his grandmother, who recently passed away, by reaching the end zone and doing the salsa that she taught him. Nicks also scored a touchdown, hauling in 10 passes for 199 yards. Martellus Bennett was also the recipient of a Manning touchdown pass, though he dropped a few along the way, as did an invisible David Wilson and Will Beatty (though it's hard to blame him). The secondary is again a big concern, as they were the weakest area of the team once again, and the pass rush is still not as dominant as expected. The Giants did overcome injuries to three key players, though: David Diehl, Ahmad Bradshaw and Domenik Hixon.
And now the ugly: Tom Coughlin vs. Greg Schiano. Coughlin's take on the kneel-down heard 'round the world: "I don't think you do that. You don't jeopardize the offensive line, you [don't] jeopardize the quarterback. Thank goodness we didn't get anybody hurt . . . that I know of." Justin Tuck chimed in: "It won't be forgotten." As did Chris Snee: "It's bush league." Even a Tampa Bay player was quoted by the Giants as saying, "Our coach told us to do it." Schiano, though, doesn't care what anyone else thinks. Cheap shot? Playing hard to the last whistle? It's all up to interpretation.
After Week 2, both the Jets and Giants are 1-1, and there are 19 other teams with that record, which is a league record after two weeks into the season. Which way will the season turn for the New York teams? The Giants get right back on the horse on Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers, hoping to ride their momentum, while the Jets play the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, with the intention of doing what the Giants did this past Sunday -- shrugging off a loss and getting back on track.