(Neil Miller / Sportsday Wire)
The Jets exorcised a lot of demons with their win over the Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
They have had to wait four years to get revenge on the Giants for the Christmas Eve defeat in 2011 that was marked by Victor Cruz’s 99-yard touchdown catch. That kept the Jets out of the playoffs that season, and they didn’t make it the next three years under Rex Ryan.
With this 23-20 overtime win, in which they overcame a 20-10 halftime deficit, the Jets cemented themselves as a wild-card contender.
Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles said of the Jets coming back for the victory, “It was a good win. Usually in the games we’ve been winning, we’ve been ahead and the fourth quarter has been nice and easy. So for us to come from behind and show some grit during the season that’s the mark of a good team. We finally got to that point and I’m just happy it was today.”
Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said of winning in overtime after being down late into the fourth quarter, “I think it was a great team win. There was a lot of stuff that needed to happen there in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter where we kind of played complimentary football. There was always a great belief in the huddle, great belief on the sideline that we could come back and take this thing. Even when we kicked the field goal knowing we still had to get a touchdown, defense gets off the field and we go and score a touchdown. I thought we did a great job today keeping our poise in the second half, not having a lot of possessions on offense but taking advantage at the end and making plays.”
Fitzpatrick said of the team showing poise, “I just think we showed a lot of maturity today. It was a key buzz word of the week, but even at the end of the game Todd (Bowles) saying a few things to me on the sideline about the situation we were in and getting my head in the right spot, I thought that was really helpful for me today.”
Early on, echoes of the Cruz play from 2011 were evident when Dwayne Harris returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown and Odell Beckham had a 72-yard touchdown catch that made it 17-10 Giants late in the second quarter.
Those were the only two touchdowns the Giants scored in the game, and they did not score in the second half.
Their other best chances at touchdowns came at the end of the first half when the Jets held them to a field goal, and when Rontez Miles picked off Eli Manning on 4th-and-2 from the Jets’ four-yard line with 8:50 left in the fourth at the end of a 17-play, 67-yard, 11-minute drive. The Giants should have taken the field goal.
Bowles said of the miles interception, “It was a turning point. Those guys they went for it on fourth down. We had a long way to go if they didn’t get it, but we got an interception. Miles came in, he’s been playing great the last two weeks now and we were fortunate to make some plays and the guys didn’t get down on themselves, so we finished out.”
The Jets responded with a field goal with 4:24 remaining, and then stopped the Giants on a three-and-out, leaving them with 2:40 to get a touchdown and tie it.
Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick methodically led them down the field and found Brandon Marshall for a game-tying touchdown with 27 seconds remaining, leaving the Giants home crowd in a stunned silence.
Bowles said of the play, “Fitz did a great job. Obviously he had more poise, which we talked about this week, all we talked about was poise and doing the right things in the fourth quarter. He was under control. The guys followed him. He made some good throws. Those guys made some good catches.”
Fitzpatrick said of the touchdown to Marshall, “That dude he makes my job so easy. We got single coverage, which we put him to the wide field and basically just threw it up and said Brandon make a play. (He) came down with it, made it look easy. It’s not easy to do, but he made it look easy.”
Marshall said of his mindset during the game tying touchdown that led to overtime, “I wasn’t thinking. We still got time on the clock, we’ve got to believe. It’s been that way all year with this team. We never give up.”
The Jets took the lead when Randy Bullock kicked a 31-yard field goal at the 8:45 mark of overtime, and then Josh Brown missed a 48-yarder for the Giants, giving the Jets the 23-20 win.
Brandon Marshall said of his comments to Fitzpatrick during the Giants’ field goal drive in overtime, “I looked up and saw that he was 31-for-42 and I asked him do you want me to hold my praise and he said, “Yeah, hold your praise.” I just wanted to tell him how proud I am of him leading us not only today but this whole season. It got to the point where he was about to kick the field goal and I told him they’re going to miss it. I said hey I’ve been in the league 10 years haven’t made the playoffs, you 11, we’ve bounced around from team to team, the football gods are hearing us right now so he’s going to miss this kick.”
Fitzpatrick threw for 390 yards, completing 36 of 50 passes, with two touchdowns.
Bowles said of this being the best he has seen Fitzpatrick play this season, “I thought it was great last week as well, so I don’t know if it was the best I’ve seen him, but it was the most poised I’ve seen him in these situations. We had Buffalo in a big game. We didn’t get it done. We had New England, we didn’t get it done. So to come out in a meaningful game, for them to get it done in the fourth quarter we obviously learned some things.”
Fitzpatrick said of clicking with Decker for four straight passes in the fourth quarter, “The defense they were playing and the way were on the ball hurrying it up and lining that up we just had to exploit that area of the field. (Decker) is obviously a seasoned veteran and kind of knows the soft spots just as a quarterback would know the soft spots of some of those zones and was able to do a really nice job in terms of finding them and us being on the same page.”
Decker made eight catches for 101 yards, and he said of how Fitzpatrick played, “He put us in a lot of good situations. We never felt the pressure. (We) moved down the field, ran our offense, executed and we gave ourselves a bunch of opportunities in the fourth quarter, to get that catch and throw with (Brandon) Marshall to tie the game, that was big time. That’s a game that we needed to really come together, (to) come back from behind and finally win one, this win is hopefully going to boost us into the next couple of week.”
Bowles said of Fitzpatrick relying a lot on Eric Decker in the second half and if there were any changes he made from the first half, “The Giants did a good job. Once we got down to clutch time, we knew they were going to try and take Brandon (Marshall) away and then they were playing some zone over on that side and Decker’s a good player and he found some holes.”
Decker said of what Fitzpatrick is like in the huddle, “Same old Fitz, when we go on the ball (he just has) command of the huddle, getting the play out, calm, collective, what a good leader should be.”
On how he would describe the win, Decker said, “Like I was saying before, this is a statement game for us as far as coming from behind and winning one. We’ve had a couple opportunities in the past, but to win one this time of year, we know we made a bunch of mistakes – and the Giants played well, they put a lot of pressure on Fitzpatrick – to get the win is big time for us. I thought a lot of guys stepped up and played.”
Marshall said of Fitzpatrick, “The thing that I love, and I think we all appreciate, is doing it together. Meaning it wasn’t just Bilal (Powell) or (Eric) Decker or myself, we all played a part in it and that’s the special thing. And that’s what Fitz tries to do. A lot of quarterbacks try to do that. I think it’s healthy for our team, I think it’s healthy for our offense. It’s special when you see (Quincy Enunwa) get involved, you see Deck lead the way. I may catch a ball here or there, and Bilal Powell he’s just amazing. He gets in there, he only knows one speed and he’s been a great help late in ball games recently.”