East Rutherford, N.J. – The New York Giants failed to capitalize on five turnovers by the New York Jets, losing the annual MetLife Bowl 24-21 in overtime on kicker Billy Cundiff’s 32-yard field goal.
The Giants, whose starting offense got off to a flying start thanks to David Wilson’s 84-yard touchdown run, ended up struggling mightily on offense the rest of the way, with many of the problems continuing from the first preseason game through to this, the major dress rehearsal.
Those issues included third down efficiency, of which the Giants were just three of 18 (17%), and red zone efficiency, in which the Giants went zero for two this week to bring their 2013 preseason red zone success rate to zero conversions on eight attempts.
The Jets, led by rookie quarterback Geno Smith, got on the board partially thanks to four straight penalties called on the Giants defense which contributed to 36 of the Jets 86 yards on the scoring drive. Smith ultimately capped the drive by connecting with receiver Ben Obomanu over the middle for a 22-yard touchdown to make it 7-7.
Big Blue broke the scoring deadlock when safety Stevie Brown, who sprained his knee on the play, got the Giants second pick of the night against Smith when Brown stepped in front of a third-and-nine pass intended for tight end Kellen Winslow. Brown was injured at the end of his 23-yard return, to the Jets 23-yard line, which set up a 40-yard field goal attempt by kicker Josh Brown to make it 10-7.
The Giants tried to build on their lead after defensive end Justin Tuck came up with his team’s third interception of the rookie, but the ensuing offensive series went nowhere and Brown’s 53-yard field goal attempt was wide left and short.
Smith, who is trying to win the jets starting quarterback job from Mark Sanchez, said that there really wasn’t any one common factor in his turnovers, but he vowed to clean up the sloppiness.
“Turnovers are never something that you want to do, we never want to put our defense in a tough spot, and they did a great job bailing us out time and time again,” he said. “It’s something that we will improve upon, something we will improve upon and something I myself will do better at protecting the ball.”
The Giants first team offense appeared to finally get untracked on their last drive of the half, a drive that started on their 19 and made it all the way down to the Jet’s four yard-line thanks to a 34-yard pass from Manning to Hakeem Nicks.
However, the Giants again failed to convert inside the red zone, turning the ball over on downs after a fade from Manning intended for Nicks fell incomplete.
“Offensively, we’re just not clicking the way we need to be clicking,” Manning said. “We all know that to get the offense going the way we want it to, it’s about execution. For whatever reason, that’s just not happening for us right now.”
The second-string Giants offense didn’t fare much better as after going three-and-out behind quarterback Curtis Painter, the Jets took a 14-10 when Smith connected with Obomanu on two passes for 34 yards and a 16-yard hookup with tight end Kellen Winslow to ultimately set up a direct snap to running back Bilal Powell who ran it in two yards for the score.
After Brown got the Giants to within one point on his 33-yard field goal, linebacker Mark Herzlich came up with a huge play in the fourth quarter to give his team a 15-14 lead when he pressured Smith out of the back of the end zone for the safety.
The Giants then added another field goal by Brown, this one from 50 yards out to make it 18-14 in the Giants’ favor. This score happened after the Jets turned the ball over for the fifth time in the game, this one on a botched shotgun snap by Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, the loose ball being recovered by linebacker Mark Herzlich.
However, the Jets snatched the game back with a little over two minutes remaining in regulation when quarterback Matt Simms, who came into the game for the injured Sanchez, engineered a 54-second scoring drive that cumulated in a 22-yard touchdown pass to Spadola to make it 21-18.
The Giants, not to be outdone, finally got a solid drive on offense engineered by Painter, who drove his team ten plays and 64 yards to the Jets’ 22, setting up Brown’s game-tying 40-yard field goal that sent the game into overtime tied 21-21.
Then things began to get a little wacky. Giants’ running back Da’Rel Scott fumbled the ball away on his team’s first possession in sudden death, the loose ball recovered by safety Jaiquawn Jarret at the Giant’s 26 yard line.
However, kicker Nick Folk ‘s 39-yard field goal attempt was wide right twice – that’s because Giants head coach Tom Coughlin attempted to ice the Jets kicker by calling a time out.
It wouldn’t really matter though as on their next possession, the Jets drove downfield to set up the game-winner by Cundiff, leaving the Giants exasperated over their glaring shortcomings in the game.
“We’ve got two weeks before the start of the regular season, and we have to use these practices to get our execution where it needs to be,” Manning said.
In addition to the painful loss, the Giants continued to get hit hard by injuries. Besides the knee injury suffered by Stevie Brown, cornerback and punt returner Jayron Hosley suffered a sprained his ankle in the first quarter.
Also suffering injuries were tight end Adrien Robinson (thumb), x-rays of which were negative, and cornerback Prince Amukamara (ankle), who didn’t come out of the game after the injury.