Forget the ‘Big Brother/Little Brother’ stuff between the New York Giants and New York Jets. What mattered the most in Saturday’s 29-14 season-saving victory by the Giants was that they made the big plays that mattered while Mark Sanchez and the Jets came up small.
The biggest play by the Giants was a 99-yard catch-and-run by Victor Cruz, the Giants electrifying second-year wide receiver. On third-and-10 from the Giants’ one-yard line Cruz caught a pass from quarterback Eli Manning, made two Jets miss at the 10-yard line and went 90 more yards to give the Giants a 10-7 lead with 2:37 left in the first half.
After having been thoroughly outplayed in the first half the Giants had the lead. They never let it go.
Late in the third quarter another huge play from Cruz set up the Giants next touchdown. This time Cruz made a 36-yard reception down the right sideline to put the Giants at the Jets’ 42-yard line.
A 28-yard run by Brandon Jacobs and a punishing 14-yard run by Ahmad Bradshaw for a score gave the Giants a 17-7 lead.
Sanchez, the often criticized Jets quarterback, could not seize the moment in the fourth quarter. He was intercepted twice, made several other questionable throws and he and center Nick Mangold botched a snap at the Giants’ two-yard line. The ball was recovered by Jacquian Williams of the Giants in the end zone.
With 2:24 left and the Jets within one touchdown at 20-14 they let the game get away from them. Sanchez was sacked for a safety by Chris Canty to make it 22-14.
The Giants then made a game-sealing play after recovering an onside kick following the safety. Bradshaw went 19 yards for the game-clinching score.
To add insult to injury Corey Webster intercepted Sanchez one final time on the Jets’ final possession.
The big-play offense has been there all season for the Giants, though usually it has been Manning leading the way. This time it was Cruz, and — in the second half — it was the Giants’ running backs.
The Giants defense played quite possibly its best game, allowing the Jets just one more score after a game-opening touchdown drive.
The Jets, on the other hand, had the advantage of the home field with MetLife Stadium decked out in green but could not take advantage of it. While the Giants look forward to playing for an NFC East title next week the Jets can only wonder if their season is now lost.