EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY // Rex Ryan got a kick out of receiving a bronzed Snoopy trophy for beating the Giants and winning the annual pre-season bragging rights with their long-time rivals.
"That's awesome," Ryan said, holding up the trophy after the Jets' 17-3 win last night at MetLife Stadium. " ... I'll tell you what, that thing looks good. I'm glad we got it."
The trophy is going to go on Ryan's desk. The DVD of the game that was delayed two days by Hurricane Irene's march up the East Coast does not deserve such a prominent spot.
There was not much that either Ryan or Giants counterpart Tom Coughlin could be happy about. The first-team offenses were not good.
The chippy game featured 16 penalties and the ejections of Giants halfback Brandon Jacobs and the Jets defensive end Muhummad Wilkerson for a second-half skirmish. And there were just too many mistakes by both teams with the season less than two weeks away.
Even Plaxico Burress's first game against the Giants since his release from prison was a dud. No catches and a bad call on the pre-game coin toss as the Jets' sole captain.
The positive was both teams played hard. The Jets prevailed because Mark Sanchez threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes, they intercepted Eli Manning twice, capitalised on two big special teams plays and got a goal-line stand by their second-team defence early in the second half.
"I don't know if there are any tickets available for that December 24 game, but I think we just sold them because that was a typical Jets-Giants slugfest right there," Ryan said. "It was a fun game, man. That was two good football teams going at it. Obviously, it's a pre-season game, but it's great competition. The fireworks will fly December 24, that's for sure."
Rookie Bilal Powell had a one-yard TD run in the fourth quarter and Nick Folk added a late field goal in what probably will be the last major warm up for both teams' starters before the regular season.
The Jets (2-1) will face the Eagles here on Thursday. The Giants (1-2), who got a field goal from Rhys Lloyd, finish their pre-season at New England, also on Thursday.
"There are things that we need to clean up, but we still have some time to do so," said Manning, who was 15 of 30 for 200 yards. "There are just some little things, but those things can add up. But that's what the preseason is for, and we still have a little time."
The banged-up Giants also had defensive end Justin Tuck (stinger) and linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka (groin) leave the game with injuries. Neither seemed serious.
The Jets did not appear to have any major injuries in the exhibition.
Jets special teams guru Mike Westhoff saw his unit provide the key plays.
Antonio Cromartie set up Holmes' touchdown with a 70-yard kick-off return, and defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert blocked Lloyd's field-goal attempt late in the third quarter with the Jets ahead 7-3.
Lloyd had given the Giants a 3-0 lead with 5:00 left in the first half with a 34-yarder.
Cromartie's big return came on the ensuing kick-off. The Giants seemed to fall asleep after Cromartie fumbled the ball in the end zone and Lloyd eventually ran him out of bounds at the 35.
Sanchez needed only six plays to cover the distance, finding Holmes on a post pattern that beat good coverage by Corey Webster.
Before the TD pass, Sanchez was 4 of 10 for 13 yards and it was clear he was not on the same page with his receivers.
"In a rivalry game like this, we have to keep our cool and be sharp, but I was proud of the guys for playing through everything, staying strong and staying poised," said Sanchez, who finished 8 of 16 for 64 yards.
The only thing the long-time rivals showed in the first half is their defences are ready for the regular season.
"On the eye test, I thought we played pretty well," Tuck said. "There are some things to work on, but I feel we're ready. We're getting more comfortable with our schemes and we'll be flying around there, when it's time."
The Giants outgained the Jets 224-73 in the half and trailed 7-3 because Manning could not capitalise after moving the offense to the Jets 27 on the opening drive.
On a second and 10 from the 27, David Harris pressured Manning and his pass to Victor Cruz was too high and intercepted by Jim Leonhard.
Harris got the other interception in the second quarter when Manning badly underthrew Ahmad Bradshaw while under pressure again.
"First one, the ball floated on me a little bit," Manning said. "And the next one, that was on me. I should have just thrown it away."
Manning and company jumped to a 3-0 lead, taking advantage when linebacker Clint Sintim recovered Sanchez's fumble at the Giants 39. Bradshaw made the big play, taking a dump-off pass and turning it into a 29-yard gain after running past linebacker Bart Scott.
The Jets were 0 for 6 on third downs in the first half and did not register their first down until they got a favourable spot on a fourth-and-1 from their own 28 late in the first quarter.
The Giants had a chance to retake the lead early in the third quarter against the Jets' second-string defence when Manning drove them from their own 15 to the Jets 1. However, the Jets stopped DJ Ware cold on a fourth-down attempt from the 1, on a play that normally would have been handled by Jacobs. The big-bruising back was not available because he has been ejected four plays earlier for trading what appeared to be slaps with Wilkerson.
"We were gashing them the entire time," Giants left tackle Will Beatty said. "We were walking them down the field. So it's not finishing a drive where you want to put the nail in the coffin and we did not do that today."
Gilbert blocked Lloyd's 42-yard attempt with 1:13 left in the third quarter and rookies Greg McElroy and Jeremy Kerley — playing the wildcat — led the Jets 68-yard, 9-play drive that featured an unsportsmanlike penalty on Giants safety Deon Grant.