The ESPN Monday NIght Football coverage began with an introduction by Hall of Fame WR Jerry Rice (who as far as I remember never played for either the Jets or the Giants). He wondered, "The New Meadowlands Stadium is up for grabs. One of these teams has to make it their own and take the spotlight along with it." Then we hear, "And the home of the... Jets!" during the montage.
Then we saw QB Mark Sanchez running out onto the field before we cut to Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden saying, "This guy right here, this is the guy," or something, as they pointed out the big free agent acquisitions in RB LaDainian Tomlinson, WR Santonio Holmes, OLB Jason Taylor and CB Antonio Cromartie.
Before all this, though, there was a bit of a controversy as both New York teams wanted to be the first to host a regular season game. The NFL decided that the Giants would host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, September 12, and Jets owner Woody Johnson was not pleased and let it be known publicly. Commissioner Roger Goodell then said something about holding some kind of secret coin toss or something.
Soon after, it was announced that the Jets would be the first to host an NFL game, albeit a preseason game. In addition, they would also have a home game on Week 1 on Monday night, September 13, in front of a wider audience.
Let's look back at the game after the jump.
The Giants started by handing off to RB Ahmad Bradshaw. OLB Bryan Thomas slipped by the pulling guard and tackled him for a four yard loss. QB Eli Manning's next two passes were incomplete, and it was a three and out.
C Nick Mangold was out for this preseason game, as HC Rex Ryan was playing it safe, especially since it was a head injury. The talk all off-season was how great it would be for Mark to have the option of the pass-catching LT out of the backfield, but as he tried to utilize his new weapon, the ball bounced off Tomlinson and into the awaiting hands of new Giants S Antrel Rolle.
After Giants RB Brandon Jacobs ran it in for a touchdown, cue the Sanchez interception reel. We remember Mark on "Hard Knocks" feeling down about the pick and backup QB Mark Brunell reminding him it's only the preseason.
Gang Green marched down the field with a completion to TE Dustin Keller, tough running by RB Shonn Greene and another catch by WR Jerricho Cotchery. LG Matt Slauson was playing fairly well despite a holding call. Is there gas left in the tank for LT? It looks like it, as he catches a pass on the Jets 15 and runs to the 4 past CB Terell Thomas. WR Brad Smith was wide open on the next play for a touchdown. Big Blue had twelve on defense, and Smith's guy was running off to the sidelines.
Fireman Ed wanted to celebrate, but a Giants fan kept pushing against him. You seem like a nice guy, but I don't think Ed thinks of you that way. Gruden says to the fan, "Get outta here!"
Oh, and by the way, CB Darrelle Revis is holding out. Cue the Revis interception reel. Gang Green continues to bring pressure, and it's a three and out.
S Eric Smith blocks P Matt Dodge's punt. Cut to STC Mike Westhoff smiling on the sidelines.
FB John Conner helps to block, as LT runs to the endzone. Touchdown. No, wait. It's a holding call on C Robert Turner. And oh, wait, the umpire is now standing behind the O-line. K Nick Folk makes the 36-yard field goal.
A big run after the catch by Bradshaw put the G Men inside the red zone. It came on a blitz by FS Brodney Pool where Bradshaw got him to the ground and turned around for the 1 yard toss from Eli around their own 30. No one else was close enough to tackle him immediately, and it was Brodney who eventually caught up to him at the Jets 14.
On 3rd and 1 came the infamous bloody play. Manning failed to let Jacobs know that he planned to throw the ball. Jacobs runs into him, the ball pops out, OLB Calvin Pace hits him from the back and drives him into the facemask of SS Jim Leonhard. Eli heads to the locker room, K Lawrence Tynes makes the short field goal, and Jacobs and Bradshaw don't seem too worried on the bench.
Sanchise completes to Cotchery for about 12, then to WR Braylon Edwards for about 22. RT Damien Woody manhandles DE Jason Pierre-Paul. Braylon had another catch for a first down, and then Mark rolled out to the right and J-Co came back to catch for another conversion. The offense couldn't overcome TE Ben Hartsock's false start, and Nick the Kick added three points.
After a Giants three and out with backup QB Jim Sorgi, JPP beat Big Wood cleanly and sacked Sanchez. Mark later got Pierre-Paul to go unabated to the quarterback. The Jets ended up punting, however, and led by three at the end of the half.
During halftime, ESPN went live to Hall of Fame QB Joe Namath's speech during the Ring of Honor ceremony. Unfortunately, the sound was absolutely awful, and by the time they fixed it, it was time to cut to commercial.
Anyways, I'm going to skip through the rest and fast forward to the Victor Cruz show. The undrafted New Jersey native had a one handed catch over great coverage by Jets CB Dwight Lowery. Cruz ended up with 6 catches, 145 yards and three touchdowns.
Big Blue beat Gang Green 31-16 in the first NFL game at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
And that's it for this edition. I'm planning on doing these for the rest of the year, returning to the team's previous match-up against the upcoming opponent. For the regular games, I'll go back to the last regular game played. I'm not sure how I'll go about the rest of these. I might be more concise, or I might write even more. I might just go with stats and storylines. I'm not sure. I'm certainly open to suggestions. Feel free to let me know your thoughts.
As Bart Simpson said, "I can't promise I'll try, but I'll try to try."