By Abraham Gutierrez
Even thought New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles did his best to downplay the intracity rivalry with the Giants, their Week 13 showdown had the feeling of a playoff atmosphere. In the end, Gang Green was able to earn bragging rights, coming away with a come-from-behind, 23-20 overtime victory.
“That’s probably the first time we beat them in the regular season in almost 20 years, dating back to ‘93,” Bowles said while addressing his team in the locker room after the game. “We’ve got victory Monday, [but] we’ve got another big one next week. Guys, we’ve got four games left, let’s close this thing out right.”
After going into the break trailing 10-20, the Jets offense began to find its stride in the final two quarters of the game. Everyone on the offensive side of the football did their part, helping Gang Green finish with 28 first downs and 463 yards of total offense.
This team showed tremendous offensive balance, registering 90 rushing yards, 373 passing yards and going 6-for-15 on the always-crucial third-down category. They held on to the ball for 38 minutes and 31 seconds of game time thanks to their ability to run the football. Leading rushers on the afternoon were running back Chris Ivory (47 yards on 10 carries), quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (22 yards on 5 carries) and backup halfback Bilal Powell (17 yards on 6 carries). Speaking of Fitzpatrick, the Jets signal-caller was instrumental on the win, connecting on 72 percent of his passes (36-for-50) for 390 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for an eye-popping 107.9 QBR.
The Jets’ wide receivers were also instrumental in this huge win, highlighted by the efforts of Brandon Marshall (12 catches for 131 yards, TD), Eric Decker (8 catches for 101 yards) and the aforementioned running back, Powell, who pitched in with 91 yards on 8 receptions and a score.
For the majority of the season, the play of the defense has determined when this team succeeds and when it fails. With no Darrelle Revis in the lineup (concussion), the possibility that Eli Manning and the G-Men’s talented receivers could have a huge game was very plausible.
Nevertheless, with the game on the line, much like they’ve done all year, the Jets defense clamped down and dominated the opposition. After scoring 20 first-half points (all in the second quarter), the Jets defense pitched a shutout in the third and fourth quarters, and took it a step further by blanking out Manning & Co. in the extra session.
In the end, the Giants were only able to muster 14 first downs and 355 yards of total offense, out of which, 74 came on the ground and 281 through the air. Jets’ Week 13 defensive standpoints included David Harris (9 tackles), Erin Henderson (6 tackles), Damon Harrison (6 tackles) and Rontez Miles (6 tackles, INT, PD). Sacks leaders on the afternoon were Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson and Mike Catapano who finished with one sack apiece.
Special Teams: A+
Wins such as this one don’t come by without the special teams unit doing its part. In this instance, the Jets’ special teams players who made their mark include punter Ryan Quigley (5 punts, 44.8 average, 55 long, and placed one inside the Giants’ 20-yard-line) and kicker Randy Bullock (11 points: 2-for-2 on extra points, 3-for-3 on field goals), along with Antonio Cromartie (3 kick returns for 78 yards, 26.0 average and a long of 35 yards).
How many times has Todd Bowles earned the respect of his players and the media by showing a tremendous ability to handle pressure situations with ease? This week’s game against the Giants is a perfect example, as he did his best to take the pressure off his players’ shoulder by ignoring the importance of a win against their stadium-mates.
Not only did Bowles and his staff do a tremendous job of preparing this team mentally, but from a game-plan and execution standpoint, his efforts are also worthy of an A+ grade. Truth is that, this team never lost its cool and did not abandon the game plan, even after falling behind in the first half.
Abe Gutierrez’s (Twitter: @GutierrezAbe) passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers), CBS-BayArea (Raiders), CBS-NewYork (NY Jets), CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, Examiner.com and other online publications.