For the umpteenth time this season, the New York Giants teased us with what looked like a surprise win, only to give up a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter and rip the hearts out of their fans.
It was a game of incredible highs and soul-crushing lows as the Giants found yet another way to lose to a team they should have beaten.
Defense and special teams show up
The Giants' defense had failed to mount a pass rush nearly all season long. Ryan Fitzpatrick probably started to wish that they had waited one more week to -- finally -- warm up. Instead, the Giants sacked Fitzpatrick three times, and hit him quite a few more. Steve Spagnuolo had his defense playing aggressively, and didn't shy away from dialing up blitzes.
After a drive that saw the Giants' defense get home with a pair of sacks, the Jet's punted to Dwayne Harris on the first play of the second quarter. The Giants used a clever punt formation that saw Odell Beckham and Harris back together, which forced the Jets to split their coverage and allowed a bit of room for Harris. With some good blocking, Harris became the first Giant since Jimmy Patton in 1955 to score on a kickoff and punt return in the same season.
#DwayneHarris with the 80-yard punt return to the house! pic.twitter.com/VXDRQbIYZ9 @JustinJMoMorris— Laticia ™ (@LaticiaD) December 6, 2015
Odell Beckham Jr. -- human highlight reel
It's starting to seem like more of a curse than a blessing, because every time Beckham makes a spectacular play, the Giants lose. But his play gives Giants fans something to be excited about as he rewrites the record books on a weekly basis.
For his first catch of the game, OBJ snagged a trademark 20-yard reception as Eli found him in a soft spot in the Jets' defense. His second catch was a 72-yard catch and run on a third-and-two that ended in the end zone.
The Jets seemed to lose Beckham when he lined up in the slot, and he made them pay. This, however, would prove to be the high point of the game for the Giants.
Go for the points or take the points?
After an epic back and forth drive that took up nearly 12 minutes of game clock (and considerably more in "real time"), the Giants found themselves on a fourth-and-two after a catch by Rueben Randle for 16 yards.
The Giants found themselves at a crossroads:
They could take the chip-shot field goal and go up 23 to 10, forcing the Jets to score two touchdowns with 8:42 left on the clock.
Or they could either try for the touchdown -- or first down -- and put the game out of reach.
Ultimately Tom Coughlin opted to go for the touchdown. A decision he stood by after the game. After a big catch, Eli went back to Randle on a slant route. The Jets sat on that route with double coverage while also double-covering Odell Beckham on the outside. It wasn't a great play-call, and the Jets kept the Giants receivers from getting any separation. The decision to go to Randle would quickly bite Manning when Rontez Miles came up from the interception.
After the game, Miles had this to say about the interception:
On 4th-down INT, Jets safety Rontez Miles said he cut off route but that it looked like Rueben Randle stopped short on route— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) December 6, 2015
It was a demoralizing end to a potentially game-clinching drive. The failed decision to try for the touchdown will be discussed time and again in the coming weeks, but with the Jets easily moving the ball in the middle of the field, it is at least understandable.
Ultimately the Jets would tie the game, forcing overtime.
Perhaps it is fitting that the first field goal Josh Brown missed this season would be a relatively easy 48-yard attempt that ended the game, likely the season, and perhaps Tom Coughlin's career.