I get it: There will be no winners at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, even if the Jets and Giants manage to avoid playing to a 70-minute tie. The Jets are nowhere. The Giants are headed nowhere, if they aren’t already there. When bad football meets bad football, the odds of something meaningful are almost impossible to calculate.
As intramural rivalries go, this really is the best one we have, because the games happen so infrequently. The Mets and Yankees play four times most years, six times some years, and already met in the ultimate way possible, a World Series nearly (gulp) 20 years ago. The Nets and Knicks play four times a year. It seems like the Rangers, Islanders and Devils spend most of their seasons playing each other in the NHL’s absurd scheduling format.
Jets-Giants? It’s like a presidential election year, or the Summer Olympics. We get it every four years. So, as much as Jets fans and Giants fans have tried to out-indifference each other this week, during the three hours the teams actually share the field, it really will be kind of cool, because it’s so rare. We’ve had just 13 of them.
So of course … we must rank them!
1. Giants 29, Jets 14: Dec. 24, 2011
On so many levels, this is the gold standard. There were hard feelings — remember the Jets covering up all the Giants-related signs and pictures at MetLife? There were real stakes — the Jets were 8-6, in position for a third-straight playoff berth; the Giants 7-7, desperate for a win to stay alive. Late in the first half the Jets led, 7-3, and had the Giants backed up to their own 1 and … well, Victor Cruz happened. And so much more happened thereafter, including a genuine Jets collapse and a Giants championship, all of it birthed on Christmas Eve in East Rutherford.
For more on the Giants, listen to the latest episode of the “Blue Rush” podcast:
2. Jets 27, Giants 21: Dec. 18, 1988
The Giants needed to win to make the playoffs. The Jets, already eliminated, were playing for pride. The Giants scored just before the two-minute warning to lead 21-20. Ken O’Brien marched the Jets downfield, then found Al Toon for a TD, and when the 49ers laid down to the Rams the next night, the Giants were toast.
3. Jets 26, Giants 20: Nov. 10, 1974
Much like this year, both teams were dreadful, but the Jets (1-7 entering) tied the Giants (2-6) late on Joe Namath’s famous please-don’t-hit-me-bootleg, then won in the second regular-season overtime game in NFL history.
4. Giants 35, Jets 24: Oct. 7, 2007
The Jets took a 24-14 lead in the third when Leon Washington took a kickoff back 98 yards. But the Giants — en route to their third Super Bowl — scored the game’s final 21 points.
5. Jets 23, Giants 20: Dec. 6, 2015
The Giants led 20-10 with less than five minutes to go, but a field goal and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s TD pass to Brandon Marshall with 27 seconds left tied it, and Randy Bullock booted a 31-yard field goal midway through overtime.
6. Giants 31, Jets 28: Nov. 2, 2003
The closest we’ve ever come to a tie. Chad Pennington threw two late TDs to force OT, but Brett Conway’s 29-yard chippie with :04 left carried the day for the Giants.
7. Jets 26, Giants 7: Nov. 1, 1981
Amazingly, the only time in the series two playoff-bound teams faced each other, the Jets racing to a 16-0 lead. Both teams ended long playoff droughts, the Giants getting in when the Jets beat Green Bay the last day of the season, clinching a bid for both.
8. Giants 20, Jets 10: Dec. 2, 1984
Known best because of NFL Films, which had miked-up Lawrence Taylor so we got two gems. To his teammates: “Let’s go out there like a bunch of crazed dogs!” And to O’Brien: “Son, you got to do better than this.”
9. Giants 22, Jets 10: Nov. 1, 1970
The first regular-season meeting was a Shea Stadium rout for the Giants over the Jets, who were without Joe Namath.
For more on the Jets, listen to the latest episode of the “Gang’s All Here” podcast:
10. Giants 41, Jets 28: Dec. 5, 1999
The highest-scoring Jets-Giants game, one that would’ve had greater hype attached to it if not for the Vinny Testaverde injury that submarined the Jets’ season in Week 1.
11. Giants 13, Jets 6: Sept. 22, 1996
Just 58,339 bothered to show up to see the 0-3 Giants beat the 0-3 Jets on the earliest date this game has ever been played.
12. Jets 10, Giants 6: Oct. 31, 1993
Boomer Esiason (129 yards passing) outdueled Phil Simms (142) in a windy, rainy mess, the only time they faced each other in green and blue.
13. Giants 20, Jets 7: Dec. 27, 1987
The season had long since ruined for both 6-9 teams, neither of whom could wait for it to end — along with just 58,318 spectators.
The Mets really do have an interesting habit of forcing a period of estrangement on almost all of their most popular players, Edgardo Alfonzo being the latest. David Wright is one glaring exception. So far.
Poor Rube Walker (among many others) wouldn’t have had a prayer of getting a gig as a pitching coach in the year 2020, would he?
I keep waiting to watch a bad episode of “Peyton’s Place” on ESPN+. But every episode is terrific.
“The Affair” finale didn’t disappoint one bit. Hated it, hated it, hated it, (watched it), hated it.
Whack back at Vac
Bob LaRosa: Is it possible to be in the same stadium while the competing fans chant: “Gase must go!!” and “Fire Shurmur!!”?
Vac: I would say the odds are quite good for that angry symphony.
Robert Levy: Since both Daniel Jones and Sam Darnold specialize in giveaways at such a high rate, Sunday’s matchup should be titled “The Big Apple Turnover.”
Vac: Who says New York isn’t ready for The Big Game?
@mmonch26: Coach Mike Anderson has made me feel good about the St. John’s program. Him and AD Mike Cragg. May they succeed and bring us some new glory to a storied program.
@MikeVacc: So far, so good over on Utopia Parkway. So far, so good.
Scott Wolinetz: In “Shawshank,” Andy thought hope was a good thing, maybe even the best of things. Red thought hope was a dangerous thing that could kill a man. I hope the Mets’ rotation takes them to the World Series. I hope that Carlos Beltran is one of those good first-time managers. I hope Brody Van Wagenen doesn’t make any more stupid trades. I hope.
Vac: I get a little paranoid when the Whackbackers start writing better than the columnist, I won’t lie.