East Rutherford, N.J. - Muhammad Wilkerson and Matt Forte made their illustrious preseason debuts as the New York Jets fall short to the New York Giants 21-20. Forte finished with ten carries for 28 yards and two catches for nine yards. Wilkerson had four tackles, one being for a loss, and a quarterback hit.
The game saw all four Jets quarterbacks play. Ryan Fitzpatrick started the game and played for five drives. He finished 9-for-16 for 76 yards, one touchdown, and one fumble lost. "The turnover in the red zone can't happen," Fitzpatrick said on the fumble. "Glad I got that one out of the way in the preseason." Geno Smith came in with under three minutes left in the first half. He only played two drives and finished 3-for-5 for 14 yards. Bryce Petty came in the middle of the third quarter and played for three drives. He completed 50% of his passes for 59 yards and threw an interception that was returned for a Giants touchdown in the beginning of the 4th quarter. Following that play, Christian Hackenberg came in and finished the game. He went 6-for-16 for 105 yards and threw a touchdown and interception. For the most part, the quarterbacks had their ups and downs except for Smith, which their wasn't enough of him to asses.
"The biggest thing with the quarterbacks is the turnovers. We can't have the turnovers," said head coach Todd Bowles. As I mentioned before, Fitzpatrick had a fumble in the red zone, Petty threw a pick-six, and Hackenberg threw an interception which set up a Giants touchdown. Smith threw an interception last week against the Washington Redskins. Even though the Jets out played the Giants for the most part, having 150 more yards and 8 more first downs, it was the mental mistakes that lost them the game.
To start the game, the Giants won the coin toss and elected to kick to the Jets. The first drive saw a lot of Forte. He ran the ball three times for 11 yards and had two catches for nine yards. "I think it was just good to see him out there in general, get him in the huddle, and get him in a game-type situation," said Fitzpatrick. Number 14 completed his first three passes before missing Eric Decker wide open twice. Then, Jalin Marshall made a catch but fumbled the ball forward and out-of-bounds, resulting in the ball be moved back to the spot of where the ball was lost.
The Giants were pinned within their own 20-yard line and a blocked punt by Bruce Carter set the Jets up in the red zone. Following a missed pass to Decker, Fitzpatrick fumbled and the Giants recovered. The first quarter ended in zeros on the scoreboard. After a few exchanged punts in the second quarter, Eli Manning was picked off by Darrelle Revis on a pass intended for Odell Beckham Jr. that was returned to the Giants 30-yard line. A few plays later, Fitzpatrick had a beautiful back-shoulder pass to Decker 22 yards for the touchdown. It was Decker's only catch of the game.
The first team defense for Gang Green was impenetrable. In the first half, the defense held their opponents offense to 42 passing yards and only five rushing yards. The Giants were also only able to convert on a single third-down attempt out of seven tries. Calvin Pryor was all over the place, having six combined tackles and the lone sack on their opponents quarterbacks. David Harris and Erin Henderson combined for nine tackles and two tackles for losses in order to stuff the Giants upfront. The teams headed into the locker room with score being 7-0 in favor of the Jets.
The third quarter had a little bit more scoring. The Jets continued to force the Giants to punt before converting on a field goal halfway through the quarter on Petty's first drive of the game. Rookie Ross Martin nailed a 55-yard field goal to put his team up 10-0. After a Lachlan Edwards punt and Jets penalty, Ryan Nassib completed two passes to Tavarres King for the touchdown. The third quarter closed out with the Giants trailing by three.
The beginning of the fourth quarter was not good for the Jets, as Petty threw an interception just outside the red zone to Kerry Wynn, in which he returned it 73 yards for the touchdown. With 12 minutes remaining in the game, Hackenberg made his NFL debut. His first two passes were incomplete to Chandler Worthy and dropped by Antone Smith. Following that, he completed a 16-yard pass to Zach Sudfeld, a 26-yard pass to Charone Peake, and a 27-yard pass to Robby Anderson. In the red zone, Hackenberg found Anderson in the corner of the end zone for a 10 yard touchdown. Anderson finished the day with four catches, nine targets, and 65 yards to go along with the touchdown.
"[Anderson] has a lot of ability, but he has a lot to learn," Bowles said. "We're just going to try to keep getting him better week by week." In three preseason games this season, Anderson leads the team in catches (11), receiving yards (203), and receiving touchdowns (2).
After stopping the Giants on the next drive, Hackenberg set up Martin for a 29-yard field goal to put his team up 20-14. The Giants ate up almost three minutes of clock before they were unable to convert on 4th down at the Jets two yard line. On 3rd-and-7 on the Jets five yard line, Hackenberg was intercepted by Andrew Adams. This set up another Nassib-King touchdown pass from 11 yards out. The Giants were up one with the 2-minute warning approaching.
Hackenberg drove the offense to the Giants 45-yard line before failing to convert on 4th-and-1. The Giants then ran the ball to run our the clock while the Jets called timeouts to stop the clock. The Jets got the ball with 12 seconds left, needing to go 84 yards. Hackenberg threw two incompletions to end the game.
Strong game by the first team defense, sloppy game by the first team offense. Fitzpatrick feels that "there were some typical bumps in the road in the preseason with some of the stuff, but I think some good can come out of it." Coach Bowles feels that the team is not close to being where he wants them to be opening day. "We still have a lot of work to do."
David Harris went to the locker room in the 2nd Quarter with a shoulder injury, will be getting tests done tomorrow.