The Giants stayed in the running for the division title by beating the Jets, 29-14, at MetLife Stadium in New York’s NFL version of a city title game Saturday afternoon, with major playoff implications for both teams. The Jets fell behind the Cincinnati Bengals in the chase for the second of the AFC’s two wild-card playoff spots.
“This is a big win because of everything that was on the line . . . and we knew we had to win this game to have a shot to keep ourselves in the playoff hunt,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said at a postgame news conference. “Playing against the crosstown rivals — a lot on the line. Guys stepped up and made some big plays. It wasn’t the prettiest game offensively that we’ve ever played, but we didn’t make many mistakes.”
The New England Patriots clinched a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs as NFL teams spent the day jockeying for postseason spots and seeds on the next-to-last weekend of the regular season.
The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers both won Saturday and remained tied atop the AFC North at 11-4. The Ravens have a tiebreaker edge after beating the Steelers twice this season, and can clinch the division with a victory over the Bengals next week.
The Detroit Lions secured their first playoff berth since the 1999 season. The San Francisco 49ers moved a step closer to a first-round bye in the NFC with their triumph over the Seattle Seahawks. A loss Monday night by the New Orleans Saints would give the 49ers a bye.
The day’s most eagerly anticipated game came between the New York area’s two teams. Both were coming off lopsided losses, and there was plenty of verbal sparring between the teams during the week. Another issure arose Saturday: It was a Jets home game, and the Super Bowl logos outside the Giants’ locker room were covered by curtains.
But it was the Giants who emerged with local bragging rights and moved a step closer to the playoffs.
“It will be a very nice Christmas Eve and Christmas for the guys, starting tonight,” Giants Coach Tom Coughlin said at his news conference following the game.
The Giants improved their record to 8-7, tied with the Cowboys atop the NFC East. The Cowboys lost in Arlington, Tex., to the Philadelphia Eagles, 20-7. The game at Cowboys Stadium was rendered meaningless for playoff purposes once the Giants won earlier in the day.
Even if Dallas had won Saturday, the Cowboys-Giants game next Sunday would have been for the NFC East crown. The Giants hold a tiebreaker edge over the Cowboys after beating them in the teams’ first meeting of the season. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo left Saturday’s game after hurting his throwing hand on his team’s opening offensive series. X-rays reportedly showed no fracture and Romo’s injury was described as a bruise. The Eagles were eliminated from playoff contention, thanks to the Giants’ triumph, even with their victory over the Cowboys.