December 24th, 2011. Jets up 7-3. 2:30 left in the first half. Giants ball on their own 1-yard line. 3rd down and 10. Rex Ryan talked the whole week about how this was the Jets' city, and for the first half his defense backed him up. They just needed just one more wrap up tackle to ensure a halftime lead. Eli Manning took the snap and hit Victor Cruz on a 5-yard out just to give Steve Weatherford a little more room to punt. Instead, Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson both missed the tackle and Cruz outran safety Eric Smith for a 99-yard touchdown. It was the longest offensive play given up by the Jets in team history.
This was a major turning point that sent the two New York franchises in polar opposite directions. The Giants outplayed the Jets in every phase in the second half, thumped the Dallas Cowboys the following week, and went on to storm through the playoffs, culminating in a victory over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Jets looked completely demoralized in the second half, lost the following week at Miami, and missed the playoffs after being in prime position for the Wildcard at 8-5.
There won't be any salsa dances this week, but there will be plenty of excitement. The Giants currently hold a 5 game winning streak over the Jets, with Gang Green's last victory coming in 1993. Similar to that last matchup in 2011, this upcoming game has serious playoff implications. The Jets at 6-5 are currently tied for both AFC Wildcard spots, but because of tiebreakers sit at 7th place. The Giants are currently tied for 1st place in the division at 5-6.
What would have happened if Cromartie made that tackle? Personally, I'm excited to see if Cro can build off his solid week against the Dolphins and redeem himself against Big Blue. He will have to help in some way or form with Odell Beckham Jr. if Revis doesn't pass the concussion protocol. If Revis is able to play, it will be another marquee matchup. I've seen several GGN members suggest Revis play the #2, in this case Rueben Randle, and double the #1. If Revis can play, he will in all likelihood be on OBJ, but he should definitely be given help. If Revis and Marcus Williams both can't play, I'm not sure there is a combination of Cro, Skrine, Walls, Milliner that anyone feels comfortable with. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.
What matchup are you looking forward to? How should the Jets handle OBJ to avoid another collapse?