EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Jets not only won the New York-area preseason bragging rights, they showed they’re a lot closer to being ready for the regular season than the Giants.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes and Antonio Cromartie scored on a 59-yard interception return in the waning seconds of the first half in the Jets’ 28-18 win Saturday night.
“We have a ways to go, and we know we have our work cut out for us, but the guys are starting to gel and we did some good things,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said.
After struggling in place of the injured Geno Smith in the first two preseason games, Fitzpatrick hit 9 of 14 passes for 127 yards. He threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker and added a 24-yarder on a screen pass to Zac Stacy as the Jets (2-1) showed balance on offense.
“Everybody was moving in the same direction, and everybody was moving in the right direction,” Fitzpatrick said.
Rashad Jennings scored on a 1-yard run for the Giants (1-2), whose first-team offense has produced 10 points in 12 preseason possessions. Eli Manning (12 of 16 for 90 yards) was having a good half until Cromartie stepped in front of James Jones and scored with 6 seconds left in the half.
“He read it,” Bowles said. “He’s been playing a long time. I think there was a little hesitation by Eli. He went to him at the last minute and Cro broke. He studies a lot of film.”
Both teams rested most of their starters after the first half.
Punt returner Walter Powell supplied the biggest highlight of the second half, returning a punt by Robert Malone 54 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Josh Brown kicked a 48-yard field goal for the Giants on the opening possession of the second half. Ryan Nassib threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jerome Cunningham and a 2-point pass to Julian Talley with 7:31 to play.
The teams will play again in a regular-season game on Dec. 6.
The Jets did more on both sides of the ball than the Giants. They established a running game, picking up 67 yards on 14 carries in the first half.
The Giants were limited to 37 yards on 14 carries and their only drive of significance was a 14-play, 85 yard drive that was kept alive by two Jets penalties.
“You can’t be perfect, but we’ve got to eliminate the self-inflicted wounds,” Jennings said. “When we do that, we’ll have the consistency down that we’re gonna need during the season.”
The Giants’ defense once again had trouble on crossing patterns and it had a major blown coverage on the screen pass to Stacy. He caught it and there was nothing in front of him but turf.
INJURIES: Jets first-round draft pick Leonard Williams — the No. 6 pick overall — sustained a knee injury in the first half and did not return. Bowles did not know the severity of the injury. An MRI is planned Sunday.
Williams has been starting in place of Sheldon Richardson, who is suspended for the first four games of the regular season after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Giants defensive end Robert Ayers was a late scratch after injuring his ankle and Achilles tendon in warmups. Rookie guard-tackle Bobby Hart sustained a knee injury. Safety Josh Gordy left with a hip injury.
Receiver Victor Cruz, who is coming off knee surgery, still has yet to play in the preseason. He was out with a calf problem Saturday.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Malone, who is pushing veteran Steve Weatherford for the starting job, had a 67-yarder on his first kick.
Decker returned punts for the Jets because Jeremy Kerley was out. He misjudged the ball on Malone’s 67-yarder and fumbled another deep in Jets’ territory.
Besides Powell’s punt return, Chris Owusu had two kickoff returns for 76 yards.
BECKHAM CATCHES ONE: After failing to catch a pass in the first two games, Odell Beckham Jr. caught five passes for 31 yards. He also had a circus catch over star cornerback Darrelle Revis but the catch was out of bounds.
EXTRA POINTS: Giants defensive tackle Markus Kuhn seemed to get a piece of Nick Folk’s extra point after Stacy’s touchdown. The Jets made up for it after Cromartie’s TD when Stacy ran for a 2-point conversion.
CUTTING DOWN ON PENALTIES: After picking up 17 penalties in last week’s win over the Falcons, the Jets had eight for 50 yards. Bowles made the Jets run gasers this week if they had more than five penalties in any practice.
The Giants had seven for 51.
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