The New York Jets were crushed by the Patriots on Monday, just another in the long line of memorable (or forgettable, if you'd rather) games played by these two division rivals over the past 51 seasons, which have included the Bill Belichick-Eric Mangini "Handshake Game" and the Thursday night 2008 overtime contest at Gillette Stadium when Jay Feely booted the game-winner and Leon Washington returned a kickoff for a touchdown, among others. Though it may seem like New England dominates the series, the two times are actually tied, at 51-51-1 (of course, they're not tied when it comes to division titles and Super Bowls). There have been times when the Jets have completely reigned over the Patriots. From 1966 to 1975, the Jets won 17 of 19 games, including a nine-game winning streak. From 1990 to 1994, they won eight of 10, and from '97 to '01, they defeated the Pats seven times in eight chances. Things have swung the other way, too, though, with Belichick's gang coming out on top 11 out of 12 times from '03 to '08. But the Jets have had the slight upper hand the last five times these two teams have faced each other, with a 3-2 mark. But all of that is slim comfort after Monday night's shellacking.
The first time the two squads ever matched up (they were called the New Yorkand Boston Patriots back then), on September 17, 1960, was also a day to forget for the Jet franchise. Only six days after the very first game in the team's history (a 27-7 win over Buffalo), New York blew a 24-7 lead, and lost in heartbreaking fashion. They were still ahead, 24-21, and only needing to run out the clock, Titan coach Sammy Baugh mysteriously decided to punt. Punter Rick Sapienza couldn't handle the snap, and after a wild scramble, Patriot Chuck Shonta picked up the ball and ran into the end zone for the winning points. Sapienza was released a few days later, which ended his two-game AFL career. Meanwhile in Maryland, an eight-year-old Bill Belichick smirked knowingly while adjusting his moth-infested hoody.
And now on to the top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.
Dominated: The Jets were annihilated in all five phases of the game: Offense, defense, special teams, coaching and backing up one's trash talking. Did they miss Jim Leonhard that much? Sure, Eric Smith was atrocious, but so was Mark Sanchez, Braylon Edwards, Steve Weatherford, Nick Folk, Rex Ryan and just about everybody else. It was supposed to be the Game of the Century. Or The Second Greatest Game Ever Played. Instead, it was a bloodbath and a massacre, and let's not forget embarrassment and humiliation, as well. But it was just one game, right? They'll learn their lesson and move on, won't they? They already buried the game ball, and the Miami Dolphins could be just the cure they're looking for. But maybe it's time for a little less talking and a little more tackling.
Domination: The Ghost of Donovan McNabb Past attempted to haunt the New York Giants, but without his Eagle uniform he didn't come close to inflicting the damage he routinely did in years gone by. The squashed the Redskins with ease on Sunday, 31-7. Big Blue finally scored a touchdown on their first possession, and they never looked back. The revamped offensive line, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw put on an old-fashioned, punishing Giants ground-game performance. The defense, led by Jason Pierre-Paul, enjoyed a turnover party, taking the ball away from the 'Skins whenever they felt like it. And the special teams had their best day of the season. It doesn't seem like the Giants are collapsing after all. And on Sunday they'll most likely get some of their injured players back. Bring on the Vikings.
Rolling Along: The New York Knicks can't lose thanks to the dynamic duo of Amar'e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton, not to mention getting big contributions from Wilson Chandler, Landry Fields and now even Shawne Williams, who's draining threes during crunch time. They beat New Orleans, Minnesota and Toronto twice this week. The real test comes with better competition, which is right around the corner with the Nuggets, Celtics and Heat on next week's schedule. The Knicks can't win forever, so how will they react once they lose a game or two? Will they shake it off and keep winning consistently or is this streak the highlight of the year? Stoudemire looks to tie a franchise record on Friday night, when he goes for his seventh consecutive 30-point game. Willie Naulls did it in 1962.
Yankees Stuff: Both sides compromised (but Derek Jeter's side compromised more), and the future Hall of Fame and presently angry shortstop is now back with the New York Yankees, after signing a three-year $51 million contract (with a fourth-year option). There hasn't been such a tense negotiation with a Bombers' shortstop since the mid-'70s, with Fred Stanley. The Yankees offered him $45 a week, and they compromised when he signed for $51, just like Jeter. With the Red Sox bulking up their lineup, the Bombers made an official offer to Cliff Lee, for six years and in the neighborhood of $140 million, and then they upped it to seven years and $161 million as they're starting to get desperate. Carl Crawford was their fallback, so if they don't come up with Lee, what's next? And George Steinbrenner didn't get elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this go around. But the committee was just taking the same hard-line approach that Brian Cashman used with Jeter. "We're not honoring him for his past success or his intangibles," they stated. "What has he done lately?"
Mets Stuff: The New York Mets didn't spend $51 million, but they picked up a reliever in D.J. Carrasco, who agreed to a two-year $2.5 million deal, and a backup catcher, as Ronny Paulino signed a one-year $1.3 million contract. He'll complement Josh Thole, as he can hit lefties almost as good as David Wright, but he'll miss the first eight games of the season because of a PED suspension. He gave the usual excuse of being unaware that a banned substance was in the all-Yoo-Hoo diet he was on. The Mets also signed Boof Bonser to a minor league contract, not because he's good but because it's been a longtime dream of the Wilpon family to have someone on the team named "Boof." They've already crossed off the names "Mookie," "Razor" and "Turk" with only "Chunky," "Muggsy" and "Ratso" left to go.
Steady as She Goes: The one thing the New Yorkhave going for them this season is their consistency. They haven't had any long losing streaks, big peaks or chasm-like valleys. They're not the most talented squad, but they keep winning, somehow, someway. They beat the Islanders on Friday, 2-0, in a game that was the complete opposite of the previous night's contest. They followed that up with a going-through-the-motions loss to Ottawa. But the find-a-way-to-win Rangers did it again last night, coming from behind and beating the Senators. Michael Sauer scored his first NHL goal, and it couldn't have come at a better time, as it turned out to be the game-winner.
Turn Out the Lights: Dandy Don Meredith passed away this week at the age of 72. Sure, he was a member of the hated Dallas Cowboys, but he became a legend for his work on Monday Night Football. His sparring with Howard Cosell was usually more entertaining than the games. He made his mark in the very first MNF game ever in 1970, when the Cleveland Browns beat the Jets. Commenting on Cleveland's receiver Fair Hooker, he said, "Fair Hooker? Well, I've never met one."
(For in-depth analysis and discussion of the Jets, Giants, Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Islanders and Devils, go to SB Nation's Gang Green Nation, Big Blue View, Pinstripe Alley, Amazin' Avenue, Posting and Toasting, NetsDaily, Blueshirt Banter, Lighthouse Hockey and In Lou We Trust, respectively.)