2004-12-31 / Sports

Jets In Danger of Watching Playoffs From Home

By Michael Avallone Sports Columnist

By Michael Avallone
Sports Columnist

Both the Jets and Giants were in giving moods over the Christmas weekend but unfortunately for them, the beneficiaries were in the forms of the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals. Gang Green laid over and died in a 23-7 pasting by the Pats while Big Blue handed the Bengals a 23-22 victory on a silver platter. Egg nog anyone?

New York Jets

PASSING OFFENSE (D) - After lecturing local reporters earlier in the week, QB Chad Pennington did nothing to refute what was written about his performance in big games. The New York quarterback completed a respectable 22-of-36 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown, but he was intercepted twice and many of his throws were off-target. It was obvious that his shoulder was less than 100 percent and four dropped passes from his wideouts did not help matters. The obligatory Paul Hackett bashing: playing against a banged-up New England secondary, five of the Jets seven catches in the first half went to the backs, which begs the question, why? WR Justin McCareins led the team with five receptions for 76 yards.

RUSHING OFFENSE (F) - The worst game of the season....by far. RB Curtis Martin totaled just 33 yards on 13 carries. As a team, New York ran for just 46 yards as their offensive line was dominated by the Pats front seven. To put into perspective how poor the Jets rushing attack was: their longest gain was for only five yards.

PASS DEFENSE (D) - As if the Jets didn’t have enough to worry about, Patriots QB Tom Brady’s performance in the Monday night loss to the Dolphins had the two-time Super Bowl MVP in a Scrooge-like mood. Brady ripped apart Gang Green’s secondary, passing for 264 yards and two TDs on 21-of-32 passing. New York managed only one sack despite numerous blitzes and was victimized by several long completions.

RUSH DEFENSE (C-) - A tale of two halves for New York’s run defense. After holding New England RB Corey Dillon to just 24 yards in the first half, Dillon wore down the Jets in the third and fourth quarters, carrying the ball 19 times for 65 yards.

The loss did nothing for the Jets (10-5) confidence as they head into their final regular season game this week against the Rams. The fact that the Patriots (13-2) were coming off a humiliating meltdown against the Dolphins did not help matters, but the type of game New York played was inexcusable. Gang Green will probably reach the postseason, but a game against the win-at-all-costs Rams will be a tough way to ring in the New Year.

Up Next: @ STL (7-8) Projection: NYJ 27, STL 23

New York Giants

PASSING OFFENSE (B-) - The rookie mistakes were still there, but for the second straight week, QB Eli Manning showed that he might be still be the player the Giants and their fans hope he’ll become. Manning (19-of-37, 201 yards, one INT) went through an 0-for-8 stretch which lowered muddied his final stats, but he received only average blocking and his interception with less than a minute to go after a nice kick-off return sealed his team’s fate. TE Jeremey Shockey led New York, catching six passes for 64 yards.

RUSHING OFFENSE (B) - There is another back besides starter Tiki Barber! Backup RB Ron Dayne was dusted off and looked good, rushing for 33 yards on only six carries in what was likely his second-to-last game in a Giants uniform. As for Barber, he continued to enjoy the finest season of his career, carrying the ball 22 times for 109 yards and one touchdown. Barber has now rushed for a career-high 1,423 yards and is just 94 shy of the team record of 1,516 set by Joe Morris in 1986.

PASS DEFENSE (C) - After a hideous game the previous week, Bengals QB Jon Kitna rebounded with a solid game (20-for-32, 186 yards, two TDs, one INT) but it was his fourth and long completion to WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (five catches, 64 yards) which put Cincy at the Giants five with under a minute left that proved to be the dagger in New York’s heart.

RUSH DEFENSE (A-) - Big Blue was able to hold Bengals RB Rudi Johnson to just 31 yards on 19 carries, part of a swarming defense that kept the Cincinnati running game in check. The Bengals totaled just 63 yards on the ground but the last four-yard burst by Johnson into the endzone is what mattered most.

Ouch! The Giants (5-10) were two minutes away from snapping a seven-game losing streak. Instead, the special teams unit (remember them) allowed the Bengals (7-8) to start their winning drive at New York’s 24. If Big Blue cannot end the season with a win against old friend Bill Parcells and the Dallas Cowboys, they will have finished the second half of the past two seasons a combined 0-16. Up Next: vs. DAL (6-9) Projection: NY 20, DAL 17.

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