Rex Ryan was brash and confident all week, insisting his Jets were the kings of New York. But the Giants shut him up in a big way – taking the city bragging rights with a 29-14 victory and setting up an even more important showdown with the Dallas Cowboys next weekend.
"This is a huge one," David Diehl, the Giants left tackle, said. "This is about the city, the city of New York and what team wants to be responsible.
"They have talked all week and said what they wanted to say. From day one, they're our big brother and other stuff. We went out there and played our game and showed whose stadium this is."
Ryan said the Jets were the better team the last two years, based on their consecutive trips to the AFC championship game and the Giants missing the NFL post-season. Tom Coughlin, the Giants coach, responded by saying, "Talk is cheap. Play the game."
It was the Giants who did.
"They were the better team today, and they're the better team this year," Ryan said. "Clearly, I was wrong."
The Giants kept their post-season hopes alive, helped by Victor Cruz setting two franchise receiving records and Ahmad Bradshaw running for two touchdowns. While neither team looked much like play-off material, the Giants (8-7) are now in position to win the NFC East with a victory at home next Sunday against Dallas.
"Given everything that was at stake, and all the noise that has been coming out of Florham Park," John Mara, the Giants co-owner, said, "yeah, it means a little more."
Brandon Jacobs, the running back, said he had an exchange with Ryan after the game in which the coach approached him, used an expletive and said, "Wait till we win the Super Bowl.
"And I told him I'll punch him in the face. I told him out of all these Giants players on this team you're talking to the wrong one. And that was that."
Ryan acknowledged that he and Jacobs "had a private conversation. He doesn't like me; I respect him".
The Jets' play-off hopes took a devastating hit, and at 8-7 they will need to win at Miami next week and get major help from several other teams.
They have to hope for Cincinnati and Tennessee to lose, and have either Oakland or Denver lose.
"We don't deserve to control our own destiny," Bart Scott, the Jets linebacker, said.