The Jets meeting the Giants resonates like the Olympics. It’s Giants vs. Jets and it carries a lot of history.
It has a special flair and now occurs every four years, including this year on Sunday, Nov. 10. Scheduling arrangements dictate they only meet in years when AFC East teams face NFC East opponents.
But it’s always energized. Two teams with a common stadium and six decades of jockeying for media coverage will find something to fight about.
Forget the rough seasons both teams are having. Bettors will find an angle on the game and history reveals a rich, embattled past.
Familiarity and contempt: Giants vs. Jets
This is a unique NFL rivalry based on contentious sharing — from opposite sides of the ball. Much of it concerns economic and cultural disparity.
The storied Giants were kings of the NFL’s largest market in the early 1960s until the upstart Jets led an opposing AFL that represented younger viewers in the late Sixties.
And then the Jets won Super Bowl III, helping cement the league merge that ensured the Giants would have lifelong competition in New York. Later, both teams moved to New Jersey and kept fighting there.
Sure, the teams occupy the same MetLife Stadium now and essentially obtain an extra home game via the league’s shortest road trip. They have been the only two league teams playing against each other on a common home field since 1984.
Although that changes next year when the Chargers and Rams occupy SoFi Stadium.
Sure, the annual preseason Snoopy Bowl between the teams infers a warm, fuzzy sense of common interest. But it’s also eerie. Giants great Mark Bavaro said, depending on which team actually hosts, “there are boos when there should be cheers.”
Game action, especially when matchups were scheduled late in the season, have impacted whether teams make the post-season.
The Giants lead the series 8-5. Let’s take a look at five matchups, among many, that mattered.
5. Alex ‘Allie’ Sherman gets canned — in pre-season
This Aug. 17, 1969, exhibition game was set in the neutral background of the Yale Bowl in Connecticut. But there was nothing neutral about this.
It unfolded at a cultural crossroad. Young versus old.
The fading Giants, once NFL champions but now mediocre, played in rickety Yankee Stadium. The brash young Jets, bold and outspoken behind quarterback Joe Namath, flashed Super Bowl rings.
The Jets played at five-year-old Shea Stadium, considered state-of-the-art for having escalators. For the first time, they had overtaken the Giants as New York’s team.
What could make the matchup more perfect? It was the weekend of Woodstock. The tabloids had a party.
Who was going to own New York? Joe Morrison of the Giants, Joe Namath of the Jets or Country Joe and the Fish, on stage?
Jets players felt snubbed by the Giants, just as AFL teams had long encountered resentment from the established NFL.
While the defending Super Bowl champs pummeled the Giants 37-14, the Giants head coach Alex Sherman heard “Goodbye Allie” taunts all throughout the game.
Imagine being canned before the regular season starts. That’s almost unheard of now.
Ironically, Sherman had begged the Giants to draft Namath four years earlier. They said no and Namath gave Sherman the boot.
Jets running back Bill Mathis said the pre-season game was as important as the Super Bowl. And, in a sign of the times, running back Matt Snell said the win was “bigger than the $250 we made from the game.”
Now there’s a number. That’s one bet for some people. Wouldn’t be surprised if someone wagered that exact amount as a show of respect.
Of course, the Giants have had the last laugh here. They have gone on to win four Super Bowls. The Jets? None.
4. The Giants’ fab-five run
At one juncture, the teams met every three years. After the Jets won in 1993, the Giants secured the next five, covering 22 years.
In some rivalries, that’s a definition of obliteration. In this one, it meant the Giants seizing hold of a series, going from 3-4 to 8-4 in overall contests before losing the last one.
Post-season implications waned during this period, as games were scheduled in September, October and November. There was one overtime thriller in here, though, as the Giants won 31-28 on Nov. 2, 2003.
3. Jets end the Giants win streak
Drama personified. Another overtime thriller swung the pendulum back to the Jets.
This Dec. 6, 2015, game enabled the Jets to break the Giants’ stranglehold on the rivalry with a 23-20 victory. It was the last meeting of these teams.
The Jets entered the game at 6-5, desperately chasing an AFC wildcard spot, while the Giants entered 5-6 and were fighting for the top seed in the NFC East.
The game featured a 72-yard Odell Beckham touchdown reception and an 80-yard punt return score by Dwayne Harris, helping the Giants. Ryan Fitzpatrick (not yet known as Fitz-Magic) tossed a game-tying touchdown for the Jets to Brandon Marshall.
After the Jets kicked a field goal in overtime, Josh Brown could have answered with a three-pointer for the Giants, extending the game. He had not missed a field goal all year, which the announcers dutifully noted just before the kick.
You know what happens next. They jinxed him. And he missed.
2. Jets spoil the Giants post-season plans
What’s better than sabotaging a sibling? In this instance, the rivals met on Dec. 18, 1988, the final game of the season.
The Jets, “hosting” at 7-7-1, had no playoff hopes. The Giants came in at 10-5-1, having won three straight. All they had to do to reach the playoffs was win one more game, on their own field, against a team going nowhere.
It never happened.
The Jets defense sacked Phil Simms eight times and their offense drove a nail in the Giants’ coffin with a late drive and 27-21 win. Heartbreak for the Giants. The Jets converted a fourth down on the game-winning drive and scored the winning TD with 37 seconds left.
The loss for the Giants, combined with wins by the Rams and Eagles, knocked them from the post-season.
For the Jets, it was a post-season outlook of “If I can’t have it, you can’t have it.”
1. The catch and run: Victor Cruz goes 99 yards in 2011
And the most electrifying moment in the Giants vs. Jets rivalry includes the longest passing play in Giants’ history: 99 yards.
It also kick-started a Super Bowl championship run.
Both teams needed this Dec. 24, 2011, game, the next-to-last of the season. The Giants were only 7-7 and trailed in the game 10-3. It was third and 10 from their own one-yard line late in the first half.
All they wanted, supposedly, was a few yards to create a more comfortable punt. Eli Manning instead tossed a 10-yard pass to Victor Cruz, who darted away from two defenders and streaked down the sidelines for the season-changing 99-yard touchdown burst.
The Giants were a different team from that moment on. They went on to win 29-14, beat Dallas the following week to reach the playoffs, and won four post-season games to take Super Bowl 2012.
Giants vs. Jets: Who will win this round?
Those are (maybe) the top five moments. It’s open to interpretation and memory.
But it will be interesting to see who stokes the fire leading up to this game. The players see each other at charity events, golf tournaments etc. One of the rivalry’s best drivers was former Jets coach Rex Ryan, whose exchange with Giants running back Brandon Jacobs after the 2011 game is still revered.
They went nose-to-nose, when it appeared they would be exchanging well wishes for the holidays.
“Shut the f— up,” Ryan said.
“Time to shut up, fat boy,” Jacobs said.
Aahh… families. Here comes the reunion.