September 18, 2019
Andrew Rosario

Andrew Rosario

Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito were at the top of their boxing games when they met three years ago. Who will be victorious when they meet in December?

New York, NY - The most anticipated rematch in recent years will take place December 3rd at Madison Square Garden when WBA Super Welterweight World Champion Miguel Cotto (36-2, 29 KO's) defends his title against 3-time World Champion Antonio Margarito (38-7 27 KO's). When they faced each other for the first time in July of 2008, both fighters had been at the top of their games and dominating their divisions. Cotto was undefeated coming off impressive, convincing wins over Zab Judah, Sugar Shane Mosley and Alfonso Gomez. Margarito rebounded after losing the WBO World Title in a unanimous decision to Paul Williams. He captured the vacant WBO Intercontinental World Title by knocking down Golden Johnson three times in the first round on the undercard of Cotto/Mosley, setting up the IBF Welterweight World Title against Kermit Cintron. Margarito stopped Cintron in the 6th round thus setting up the fight with Cotto.

No one thought the outcome of their fight would have lasting effects on both fighters. Neither has been the same since. Cotto had established himself as a fighter who could not only take a punch but could inflict damage as well. He showed that he could adjust to his opponent, evidenced by how he out jabbed Mosley the entire fight. Even though many questioned Margarito's chin, his relentless style and punching power was something to watch.

The fight turned out to be one of the most action-packed fights of 2008 with Cotto taking the early rounds. Margarito's patience paid off as he pressed Cotto with powerful right uppercuts sending Cotto to the canvas twice in the 11th round. Cotto's corner would throw in the towel as a bloodied and swollen Cotto would lose for the first time in his career.

Thinking and hoping that win would catapult Margarito to the next level, he faced Mosley in what would be the start of controversy regarding the wrapping of Margarito's gloves. Prior to the fight, members of Mosely's team discovered Margarito's gloves were wrapped with illegal substances. No one knows if that gave Mosely added incentive, but Mosely went on to knock Margarito down in the 8th round and ended the fight in the 9th on a TKO. Cotto went on to win 4 of his 5 next fights but just as Margarito took a beating against Mosely, they both took a beating against Manny Pacquiao.

Both fighters attended the press conference last month at the Edison Ballroom in midtown and the focus of the questions was about the first fight and whether or not the outcome had to do with Margarito's gloves possibly being doctored. Said Cotto, "the only people that can tell you if they use it (illegal wraps) that is him and the people on his team." Cotto refused to use that as a possible excuse for his loss but at one point, he showed a picture on his i-phone. One that was very revealing. In it, clear as day, is a picture of Margarito's hand without the glove on. The wrapping appears worn and chipped across parts of the knuckles. Cotto was incredulous in describing the picture as it was shown to the media. "I'm a boxer and I have never seen broken gauze broken like that. You don't have tape over your knuckles."

Antonio Margarito has always maintained his innocence going back as far as the first match with Cotto. After the revelations came to light in the Mosely match, he was suspended for 1 year by the California State Athletic Commission. He claims to this day that he had no knowledge that the substance his trainer was using was illegal. The trainer, Javier Capetillo, took the blame claiming Margarito had nothing to do with what the gloves were wrapped with. Still, the damage had been done and many questioned Margarito's victories after the Cotto fight, especially after getting hammered by both Mosely and Pacquiao. "The people have the right to their opinions but I know that I am a clean fighter," he said. When asked if he took this fight to prove that his gloves were not tainted, he said, "not at all. This is a great fight for the fans. This is an opportunity for myself to become world champion again."

Miguel Cotto has never seen the first fight against Antonio Margarito in its entirety. He plans to sit down and watch the fight during his training camp in order not to make the same mistakes. He never used the fact that Margarito's gloves may have been doctored as an excuse for losing the fight. "I never said anything about it. I just accept my defeat as a true defeat."

Antonio Margarito admitted that the beating he took at the hands of Pacquiao was the worst of his career. "He fractured my eye socket, he was the cause of me having me to stay out such a long time. I had to have surgery on my orbital bone." Still, he believes he can win another championship. "I've had some time off. I've been back in the gym. I feel mentally strong and physically strong."

Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito were at the top of their boxing games when they met three years ago. No one could have ever imagined the paths their careers would take after the outcome of that fight on that July night. One is fighting for revenge and the other is fighting for his reputation.

New York, NY - It was a very, very bittersweet night at Madison Square Garden Saturday night when Miguel Cotto stepped into the ring against Austin Trout for the WBA Super Welterweight title. First, a final 10 count was given to Hector "Macho" Camacho who was shot in his hometown of Puerto Rico on November 20th. Camacho was taken off life support four days later losing his life at only 50 years old. Then, Cotto who had never lost at MSG could not add another belt to his illustrious career losing a unanimous decision to Austin Trout that was much closer than the scoring indicated.

Two judges, John Poturaj and Steve Weisfeld scored in favor of Austin 117-111. The most lopsided score came from Adalaide Byrd who scored it an obnoxious 119-109 giving Austin the first 10 rounds. This reporter had Austin winning 8 rounds to 4 or 116-112. Perhaps the judges were swayed by how both fighters looked as the fight went on and ultimately ended. Austin did not look like he was in the ring with a five-time World Champion coming away virtually unmarked. Cotto, on the other hand, looked like he was in a street brawl as his face had several red bruises and a welt under his left eye.

"I was blessed with good skin that doesn't swell up," said Trout after the fight about coming out of the fight with no telling marks.

Cotto clearly had trouble with Austin's southpaw style as the former world champion had a hard time getting inside. Cotto did most of his damage when he pinned Austin against the ropes but to the surprise of many, the man they call "No Doubt Trout" was able to get out of any serious trouble by taking the fight to the middle of the ring.

"I think the left hand was a big factor," Trout said. "I caught him with some good left hands, overhands. Stepping around him to my right countered with my jabs was a big thing."

Around the fourth round, the swelling around Cotto's left eye became a target for Austin. He used it to his advantage throwing the hook and uppercut that Cotto could not see. It was at that point that the fight started to sway in his direction. Still, the warrior that Cotto is pressed forward spurred on by the more than 13,000 fight fans in attendance.

When the decision was announced, Austin Trout was not quite sure the result would go in his direction knowing it was a pro-Cotto crowd.

"When I heard unanimous, I was a little nervous." Then he heard "and still and my heart dropped."

Miguel Cotto appeared afterward without sunglasses many fighters wear to hide the results of the fight.

"I was a little surprised at the decision of the judges," he began. "I have to accept it."

He will take time off and spend the Christmas holiday with his family before deciding what he will do next. In his customary class, style, he did not offer any alibis or excuses for his performance.

"I accept my defeat, I learn from them and I'm going to continue."

Bronx, NY - The New York Jets lost three-straight road games and were left for dead after only 5 games in the 2011 football season. It wasn't so much that they lost those games after starting the year 2-0. It was the way they lost them. They lost by 10 traveling across the country to face the Oakland Raiders in the Black Hole. The following Sunday night they got abused back east by the Baltimore Ravens. The final was 34-17 but the game was never that close. They had a chance to right the ship when they faced hated division rival the New England Patriots. They only trailed by 3 at halftime but could not stop Tom Brady and company in the second half as the Pats amassed 446 total yards by game's end. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis trampled over Rex Ryan's defense for 136 rushing yards.

Then the infighting began with veteran wide receiver Santonio Holmes calling out the offensive line and their failure to protect quarterback Mark Sanchez. When Derrick Mason, Plaxico Burress, and Holmes complained to Ryan about the offensive play calling, Mason gets traded to Houston. Although Ryan and General Manager Mike Tannenbaum denied it, many in and out of the organization felt Mason was used as a scapegoat. The New York Jets were in an early season crossroad when they faced the winless Miami Dolphins.

Although they came away with the victory, Miami gave them a run for their money. The more talented San Diego Chargers came into MetLife Stadium before the Jets were scheduled for their bye week. Sanchez throws 3 touchdown passes to Burress and Shonn Greene rushed for 112 yards. The defense forced 2 Phillip Rivers interceptions and shut out the Chargers in the second half. After the bye, their next 2 games would be against the Buffalo Bills and the rematch against New England. A chance to distance themselves and put themselves in the position to win the division. One down one to go.

In what may have been their best defensive performance, the Jets shook off first-half offensive mistakes and buffaloed the Bills 27-11. How dominant were they defensively? They only allowed 14 first downs for the entire game while picking off two Ryan Fitzpatrick's passes. Buffalo did not score in the first half. They kicked a field goal early in the third quarter and did not score again until the game was totally out of reach. Fitzpatrick had averaged 234 yards per game. He ended up with 191. The running game, led by Fred Jackson, came into the game averaging 135 yards. The Jets stuffed them, giving up only 96 yards. If not for a first-quarter Sanchez red zone interception, a fumble and a Nick Folk-missed field goal, the game would have been a complete laugher.

The New York Jets had been 0-2 under Rex Ryan coming off the bye week. He reminded the team of that stat and it must have caught their attention. Now he's hoping they can keep the momentum going when Wonder Boy, Tom Brady, comes to town Sunday night.
A win would at least give them a tie, depending on what Buffalo does when they travel to Dallas Sunday afternoon.

Know one thing: The Jets will be looking at the tapes from the New York Giants, Patriots game to see what Big Blue did on both sides of the ball to come away with a 24-20 victory. It was the first time the two teams met since the Giants blew up New England's quest to run the table in the 2006-2007 season winning the Super Bowl in Arizona. Although the game Sunday did not have that kind of significance, it showed the Giants could overcome injuries at key positions against a quality team. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw was out with broken bone in his right foot. Starting wide receiver Hakim Nicks hamstring prevented him from playing. Still, Eli Manning showed why he is becoming one of the elite quarterback's in the league. Twice, with his team trailing, he drove them downfield to take the lead.

First, down 3 (13-10) with a little more than 7 minutes to go, Manning directs an 8 play, 85-yard drive connecting on a 10-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham. Brady gets the ball with 3 minutes to go and good field position as Manningham was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Nine plays later, the Patriots took their last lead of the day when Brady finds tight end Ron Gronkowski for a 14-yard touchdown pass. With 1:36 left in regulation, a field goal would have sent the game into overtime. Manning wanted it all. Starting at their own 20, Manning completes passes to wide receiver Victor Cruz (19 yards) and tight end Jake Ballard (28 yards). Looking downfield on his next pass attempt, Manning steps up in the pocket and scrambles for 12 yards. On the next play with Cruz streaking towards the end zone, Manning heaves the pass as Cruz gets bumped by free safety Sergio Brown who is called for pass interference. It sets up the game-winning, one-yard touchdown pass to Ballard.

Both the New York Jets and the New York Giants set themselves up with big wins to dictate how their season will go from this point on. After losing three in a row, many were ready to throw dirt on the Jets. They can put some room between them and New England with a win Sunday night. The Giants travel to San Francisco to play the surprising (7-1) 49ers. It only gets more interesting after that as they face the Eagles, New Orleans, and Green Bay. Hopefully, they can get both Bradshaw and Hicks back. They're going to need them.

East Rutherford, NJ - The Super Bowl Champion New York Giants wanted to pick up right where they left off last year when they faced division rivals Dallas Cowboys Wednesday night in front of the largest sold out (82,849) crowd at MetLife Stadium. Unfortunately, the offense looked like they were still in pre-season mode and the defense gave up too many big plays in losing 24-17 to open up the 2012 football season.

After both teams went three and out in their initial possession, the Giants, starting on their own 13 behind Eli Manning (he completed 3 passes for 53 yards) gets down to the Dallas 29 yard line. Rookie running back David Wilson running left fumbles killing the drive. Wilson, sat alone at his locker after the game clearly upset at his overall performance.

"I don't think this day could have been any worse," he started. "I did bad, I fumbled and then we lost." The Cowboys failed to take advantage of the New York miscue as they attempted a 4th and 1 run that was snuffed by Antrel Roll.

The first time Dallas got the ball in the second quarter, it led to the only New York lead of the night. With Tony Romo in the shotgun looking for Kevin Ogletree, Romo's pass sails over Ogletree's head and is intercepted by linebacker Michael Boley at the 47. Boley scampers down to the Dallas second yard line before getting tackled horse collar style resulting in a penalty and placing the ball on the one-yard line. Didn't matter as running back Ahmad Bradshaw loses three yards on the first two rushing attempts. Manning then throws an incomplete to Victor Cruz and they settle for a 22-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes. The short yard running game that haunted them all of last year once again prevented them from scoring a touchdown.

Said head coach Tom Coughlin "we had been very good in goal line sequences against Dallas. I don't know whether the scheme flattened us out. That wasn't a great way to start."

New York's defense continued to play well until the waning moments of the first half. Dallas began at its own 27 with 3:34 remaining. Seven plays and 73 yards later, Romo finds Ogletree for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Romo completed 5 passes for 60 yards during the drive. The Cowboys took the lead they would never give back.
The Cowboys extended the lead in the third quarter as Romo and the offense slowed the Giants pass rush with quick passes. Romo would connect with Ogletree again as he gets behind cornerback Corey Webster, this time for a 40-yard touchdown pass. The nine-play, 80-yard score put Dallas up by 11 (14-3). Ogletree would end his night with 8 catches for 118 yards and the 2 touchdowns. Bradshaw closes the gap to four (14-10) after his 10-yard run caps a nine-play, 89-yard drive. Dallas ended the third quarter with a 33 yard Dan Bailey field goal (17-10), as the Giants looked to continue a winning streak in which teams have won the Super Bowl since 1999 won the opening game the following year. It would not happen.

With Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara out with a leg injury, Michael Coe took his place in the starting line-up. Coe would pull his hamstring in the fourth quarter and his replacement Justin Tyron was victimized by Romo for what turned out to be the Cowboys final touchdown. Changing the play at the line of scrimmage, Romo throws a pass to Miles Austin as he gets behind Tyron. Austin pulls the pass down and races into the end zone for the 34-yard score.

Manning finds ex-Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett with a nine-yard touchdown pass with 2:42 left and had one more opportunity to get the ball back. Dallas faced a third down and 12 situations on their own 34 after a holding penalty. Tyron gets victimized once again giving up a 13-yard catch to Ogletree.

Dallas gave the Super Bowl champions plenty of chances to win the game as they were penalized 13 times for 86 yards. The normally reliable Victor Cruz struggled as he dropped 3 passes that would have given his team first downs.

"We gave ourselves a chance there at the end of the game. We just took way too much time for us to score," said Coughlin. "We certainly are capable of playing much better."

He turned down the invitation to be on Dancing with the Stars, but New York Giants wide receiver extraordinaire Victor Cruz could not pass up an invitation to take his salsa dancing skills to Broadway. Fresh off his stellar performance (10 catches, 142 yards) in the 20-17 overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Cruz shuffled his feet at the Modell's Times Square location to the delight of a crowd of Giants fans. He talked about the origin of his touchdown celebration, how exhausted he was after the team clinched the NFC Championship and being part of his very first Super Bowl. Oh, he also gave an example of the dance he hopes to display at some point during the game that will take place February 5th in Indianapolis.

Because high school and college rules prohibited end zone celebrations, Victor Cruz had to wait until he made it to the pros to express his excitement after scoring a touchdown. He caught everyone's attention when he hauled in 3 touchdown passes against the Jets in the 2010 pre-season game. Ironically, he didn't get his salsa on after any of the catches. A hamstring injury sidelined him for the rest of that year. When Steve Smith signed with rival and division foe Philadelphia the following season, Cruz was given another chance to display his talents. The Eagles were the first team to see his moves after he splits two of its defensive backs and scampered 74 yards for the touchdown. The Salsa Shuffle was born.

"My grandmother said I should do a dance when I score a touchdown." He wasn't quite sure if she would like It. "Once I got her approval, I had to keep it." It has taken the city and the NFL by storm.

With the rainy and windy conditions facing both teams in the championship game, it was a little surprising that the Giants offense would put the ball in the air as much as they did. Victor Cruz was Eli Manning's favorite target in the first half. They connected on 8 passes for 125 yards but you could tell he was wearing down as the game went on. He only caught 2 passes for 16 yards in the second half, dragging himself off the turf as the game went on. "I was exhausted," he said. The exhaustion faded the minute Lawrence Tynes 31-yard field goal sailed through the uprights sending the team to the ultimate game. Cruz was seen jumping up and down euphoric in his celebration.

Victor Cruz and his Salsa Shuffle was not part of the New York Giants when they beat the New England Patriots in 2008. He was part of the team that beat them last year when the Patriots were undefeated. Cruz will make it a point to talk to members of that 2008 squad to find out what the next 2 weeks will be all about.

"Come Thursday I will ask guys and get their take on it. How they feel about the game and how they are going to handle everything."

They say familiarity breeds contempt. That said, Cruz doesn't know which team has the advantage given they have played each other as often as they have over the last couple of years.

"We've seen each other a lot. We're very familiar with each other. They understand us well and we understand them well. It's going to come down to who makes the most plays."

Victor Cruz is hoping to do his Salsa Shuffle for the first time this postseason on the biggest stage and the biggest game of his career.

East Rutherford, NJ - The defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants were coming off their opening night loss against the Dallas Cowboys in a game that seemed like it took place last year. Big Blue faced a surprising Tampa Bay Bucs team that was coming off an impressive Week 1 win over the Carolina-led quarterback, Cam Newton. It was a homecoming of sorts for former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano who has a history with the Giants, the team he rooted for while growing up in North Jersey.

Tampa Bay wanted to set the tone right from the start as it decided to let its defense take the field after winning the coin toss. The move backfired as Eli Manning connected on 2 passes to Hakim Nicks for 48 yards leading to a Lawrence Tynes 37-yard field goal. The Bucs bounced right back with a field goal of their own as quarterback Josh Freeman completed a 41-yard pass to wide receiver Vince Jackson. It began a first half that saw Freeman lead Tampa Bay to a 24-13 lead as their defense picked off Manning three times. The last pick returned 60 yards by Eric Wright. Manning committing the cardinal sin for a QB looking directly to the receiver he was trying to connect with.

Not helping matters were injuries to David Diehl, (knee) Domenik Hixon (concussion) and Ahmad Bradshaw (neck).

Said head coach Tom Coughlin about losing three key players on the offense, "it puts you in a state for a while where you're trying to settle down. It happened so quick. You gotta give people credit. People really did step forward and play very, very well under the circumstances and gave us a chance to win."

When the Bucs extended the lead 27-13 it looked like the Super Bowl Champions would start the year losing their first two games. New York crept within eight after two more Tynes field goals (36, 38) ending the third and starting the 4th quarter. Like the game against Dallas, they could not get in the end zone the two times they were within the Tampa Bay 20. Then, just like he did all of last year, Manning engineered a 4th quarter comeback leading to a 41-34 victory.

Down 27-19, Manning finds Victor (Salsa) Cruz down the right side for an 80-yard touchdown catch and run. Cruz played with a heavy heart losing his grandmother earlier in the week. His customary Salsa Dance in the end zone had a special meaning.

"Right as I was done, I kind of looked up and held my hands up to her, letting her know that one was for her," he would say after.

Manning did not stop there and the defense, sparked after safety Kenny Phillips blasted Vince Jackson on a pass attempt over the middle, got the offense the back quickly.

The Giants took the lead (34-27) when Manning marched them downfield as tight end Martellus Bennett came up big catching 2 passes for 47 yards. The last, a 33-yard touchdown grab. The lead was short-lived as the Bucs tied the game on a spectacular catch by wide receiver Mike Williams. With Tampa's QB Josh Freeman in the no-huddle, shotgun offense, he hauls a pass to the end zone in the left corner. Williams jumps over cornerback Justin Tryon and brings down the 41-yard touchdown. With 1:48 left and staring at the potential of overtime, Manning made sure that would not happen.

Eighty yards away did not deter Manning and the offense. In order, Manning hits Ramses Barden for 24 yards. Hakeem Nicks was next catching a 50 yarder to the Bucs 11. Andre Brown scampers down to the 2-yard line, falling down before crossing the end zone in order to keep the clock running. The Bucs allowed Brown to score on the next play giving the Giants the lead but also giving the Bucs one more chance to score with 31 seconds left. It almost happened.

Freeman, who finished his day throwing for more than 240 and two touchdowns, finds Jackson again for 19 yards. Williams strikes again, making what looked like a completed pass that would have given the Bucs the ball on the Giants 16. The play was reversed and ruled incomplete and Freeman's next pass was picked off by linebacker Michael Boley ending the game.

It was a tale of two halves for the entire team. Three Manning interceptions led to a 24-13 deficit as the defense struggled. Then, sparked by the Phillips blast, the whole team woke up. Manning finished throwing for 510 yards the second most in Giants history. Nicks and Cruz caught a combined 378 yards. All this after losing three important parts of the offense.

Said Coughlin: "the first half was very disappointing. A lesser group of men I think would have had trouble. I'm just happy to be one and one."

East Rutherford, NJ - They were not going to let it happen two weeks in a row. The New York Giants were in the same situation against the surprising Buffalo Bills (the real New York State team) that they were in against the Seattle Seahawks last week. This time, instead of turning the ball over in their last possession, the Giants put the winning points on the board, courtesy of a Lawrence Tynes 23-yard field goal with just over a minute left in the game. Still, like they did last week, the Giants once again made a crucial mistake with a chance to put 6 points on the board before the winning kick.

Last week, in their last drive that would have given them a lead over Seattle, they got called for a false start at the 5-yard line. Eli Manning would then force a pass to Victor Cruz and the pass tips off his hand and gets returned for a touchdown. Sunday at the 17-yard line, tackle Stacy Andrews gets for a false start. This time, they decide to keep the play calling simple, leading to the winning score.

The Giants put the first points on the board the second time the offense took the field. Starting on their own 31, Manning (21-32, 292 yards and no turnovers) leads them to a 9 play, 69-yard drive ending in a 1-yard touch down run (the first of 3) by Ahmad Bradshaw. He would finish his day with 104 yards on 26 carries, his first 100-yard day this year. With Brandon Jacobs missing his second straight game with a sore knee, the Buffalo defense keyed on Bradshaw but the offensive line did a good job of opening holes. Said Bradshaw, "I'm very proud of our offensive line. The front did a great job for me to push it in on the goal line."

The Bills didn't waste any time showing everyone why they are one of the top teams in the AFC. They scored quickly on their next 2 possessions in a big way. First, Fred Jackson rumbles 80 yards tying the game at 7. The last couple of yards, he stumbles, but the Giants defense could not bring him down. Then, at their own 40, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick connects with Naaman Roosevelt for a 60-yard touchdown pass. Both plays took less than 3 minutes. It could have set the tone for the defense for the rest of the day, but Big Blue tightened up the rest of the day. Said head coach Tom Coughlin, "we had a couple of lapses on defense with the big plays. But we settled in there."

New York took a brief 3 point halftime lead (17-14) after Tynes' second field goal and Bradshaw's second touchdown run, but the Bills sent the teams to the locker room tied at 17 after a Rian Lindell long 49-yard field goal. Buffalo out-gained the Giants in the running game 125 to 46 but Fitzpatrick only threw for 99 yards. The Giants defense had to make adjustments while the offense needed to open up the running game. They did both in the second half.

The Giants took a 7 point lead (24-17) midway of the third quarter as the tandem of Manning and tight end Jake Ballard continue to click. In the 10 play, 75-yard drive, they connect on passes totaling 31 yards. It ends in Bradshaw's last touchdown of the day. Ballard finished his day with 5 catches for 81 yards. Said Ballard of the chemistry between the two, "you do what Eli expects of you to do and you're going to get the ball." With Fitzpatrick moving the ball from their own 41, he looks for Stevie Johnson deep down the left sideline. Corey Webster steps in front for the interception (his first of the day) returning the ball to the Bills 48. Looking like they would put more points on the board, Tynes attempts a 51-yard field goal that gets blocked. The lead would stand up until the fourth quarter as the defense did not give up any points in the third.

Buffalo would not go away quietly. They came from behind trailing New England by 21 points so it surprised nobody when Fitzpatrick moves them 51 yards in 11 plays after the block as Johnson catches a 9-yard touchdown pass. Webster would then pick off his second pass of the day as Fitzpatrick tested him again looking for Johnson on another deep pass to the left side. Not only did Webster snatch the pass but as he is returning the pick, Johnson gets called for a 15-yard face mask penalty. The Giants begin their game-winning drive on their own 27. A beaming Webster talked about his defense. "We didn't start off well early on giving up the two big plays. Other than that, we kept on fighting and ultimately we got the 'W'."

The New York Giants have the luxury of a bye week hoping they can get healthy on both sides of the ball. Jacobs' knee is a real source of concern. Justin Tuck is still battling neck and groin problems. First-round draft pick Prince Amukamara ran last week and might be ready when they face the Dolphins at home October 30th. Wearing a Yankee cap, Ballard said it best when asked how important it was to win going into the bye week. "It's huge. If we had lost this game, we would have had to wait two weeks to play again."

East Rutherford, NJ - It's not the way the New York Giants wanted to start against the lowly, winless (0-4) Cleveland Browns. After winning the coin toss, Big Blue coughs up the ball as running Ahmad Bradshaw gets hit by his own lineman Chris Snee.

Said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin of the play, "when you look at the tape, it was a little more freakish than you think."

Two plays later, Trent Richardson runs 15 yards for the touchdown. The next time Cleveland touches the ball, rookie QB Brandon Weeden finds wide receiver Josh Gordon as he runs right past Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn for the 62-yard touchdown. First, safety Stevie Brown creeps towards the line of scrimmage anticipating a run play, then the other safety Antrel Rolle was late helping out in the coverage. Blackburn could not catch up with Gordon. Before the 79,911 sold out crowd could get settled, the home team trailed 14-0.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning would cut the lead in half (14-7) after taking the team on an 11-play, 92-yard drive ending in a three-yard touchdown pass to Victor (Salsa) Cruz. Manning completed six passes for 61 yards. Cleveland also contributed to the drive with a 13-yard pass interference penalty. The Browns extended the lead (17-7) on a 32-yard Phil Dawson field goal. New York used its next long drive to put more points on the board but could only come away with a Lawrence Tynes 29-yard field goal cutting the Browns lead to seven (17-10) and Manning's last pass falling incomplete to receiver Rueben Randle.

The Giants defense had given up 156 yards in the air to Weeden and 56 yards on the ground by Richardson to start the game. Cleveland was looking to add to those stats and extend the lead as they moved down to the Giants 25 yard line. That's when the defense came up with a big play. Weeden overthrows Gordon into the hands of Brown who returns the pick 26 yards. Manning then finds Randle on a deep pass for 36 yards before Bradshaw runs it in from four yards out tying the game at 17.
New York's special team then gets into the act when they kick off next to the Browns. Will Hill forces a Joshua Cribbs fumble and that man, Brown, scoops it up on the 29-yard line. At 1:27 later, Manning finds Cruz for the second time all alone in the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown. Penalties continued to hurt Cleveland on both sides of the ball. Offensively, they committed two miscues ultimately giving the ball back to New York with .17 left in the half. After a 12-yard run by Bradshaw, Manning looks to hook up with Randle again as Browns Buster Skrine is called for pass interference. Tynes then kicks his second field goal of the day giving Big Blue a 27-17 halftime lead.

The Cruz (Salsa) show continued in the third quarter after their first possession. From the shotgun, Manning (25-37, 259 yards, 3 TDs) once again finds Cruz alone in the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown pass, his third and final for the day. With the lead 34-17, Cleveland looked to make a run similar to the way they began. The Giants defense would not let that happen.

Big Blue allowed a Dawson 41-yard field goal reducing the lead to 14 (34-20) with a little more than a minute to go in the third. Manning would then throw his only pick of the day as the pass intended for Cruz gets popped in the air by Sheldon Brown. Usama Young comes up with the ball. Weedon gets the Browns down to the Giants 5 yard line looking to close the gap to seven when his next pass is intercepted by Blackburn in the end zone. On the play before, Weedon's pass attempt gets batted right back to him by Justin Tuck. Weedon finds tight end Jordan Cameron which would have been a 13-yard touchdown pass bringing the score to 31-27. The score was nullified for an illegal forward pass. Six plays later, Giants rookie David Wilson puts the game with a 44-yard touchdown run for the 41-27 final score.

It was a record-setting day for Bradshaw, as he finished the day with 200 yards on 30 carries. Cruz salsa'd his way to three touchdown catches for a meager 50 yards. Big Blue got major contributions from back-ups on sides ball. Offensively, Little used wide receiver Rueben Randle pitched in with six catches for 82 yards, while Brown shook off his early miscue to come up with big plays on the defensive side.

They will need all of those components when they travel cross-country to face the San Francisco 49ers the team they beat last year on their way the winning the Super Bowl.

All of the good feelings that came out of the New York Jets locker room after they dismantled the Buffalo Bills a week ago, were quickly snuffed out when they traveled to Pittsburgh to face a team hosting their home opener. The Steelers were also playing with a chip on their shoulders after losing to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos the week before. The last time the Steelers set their spikes on the home turf, they walked off with heads down and shoulders shrugged as Tim Tebow threw a game-winning, overtime touchdown. Seemed like Pittsburgh remembered how that game ended as they brought the Jets back to reality in their 27-10 victory at Heinz Field.

With both teams missing key defensive players, (Darrelle Revis for the Jets and Troy Polamalu for the Steelers) the Jets did pick up where they left off in their home opener against the Bills. Pittsburgh took a 3-0 lead after a Shaun Suisham 45-yard field goal. In New York's first possession, QB Mark Sanchez completes 4 of 5 passes for 80 yards, ending in a 14-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes. It was all downhill from that point on for the offense as the Steelers defense suffocated Gang Green the rest of the game. After Nick Folk converted a 38-yard field goal to extend the lead to 10-6, the Jets would not get on the scoreboard again.

The defense that Jets head coach Rex Ryan cited as "the best he's coached" since he's been here, could not stop Pittsburgh when it mattered. It began late in the first half with the Steelers starting on their own 20. Ben Roethlisberger completes six passes on the drive for 55 yards. The big play came after connecting with Emanuel Sanders for 19 yards. Thirteen yards were added after safety LaRon Landry gets flagged for a late hit. The drive ends in a one-yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller giving the Steelers a 13-10 lead. The Jets offense sputtered the rest of the game with Sanchez only completing 6 of 22 passes for 58 yards. The running game was non-existent as they gained only 90 yards, 22 of those yards coming from Tim Tebow out of the wildcat formation.

The Pittsburgh Steelers dominated the time of possession holding on to the ball for more than 13 minutes than New York. It wore on the Jets defense as Roethlisberger finished his day throwing for 275 yards completing 24 of 31 passes. As in his customary fashion, Big Ben shook off several Jets defenders scrambling out of the pocket before tossing a complete pass. As solid as Roethlisberger was overall, Sanchez was only able to complete one pass to his wide receivers in the second half.

Two games do not a season make but it's clear that the New York Jets should be a tad concerned when they travel to Miami to face a team coming off a rout over the Oakland Raiders. Couple that with the fact that Miami is facing its ex-head coach Tony Sparano (now offensive coordinator for the Jets) and just like the Steelers, the Dolphins will be playing with a little extra incentive.

Jets Crushed by 49ers

September 30, 2012

East Rutherford, NJ - So this is what the New York Jets defense looked like with the best cornerback in football Darrelle Revis out with a torn ACL in his left knee, a 34-0 loss to the 49ers at MetLife Stadium. Not a good look, particularly since the San Francisco 49ers spent the week in Ohio rather than travel back home after getting beat by the Minnesota Vikings last week. Considering the 34-0 loss, Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan, not only needs to worry about the Jets defense, but he also needs to be concerned with the 11 players on the offensive team.

With a crowd of 79,088 peppered with San Francisco red, the Mark Sanchez led Jets sputtered as their first three possessions ended in two punts and a fumble. Tim Tebow completed his first pass of the year, but tight end Dedrick Epps gets blasted by C.J. Spillman causing the turnover. It didn't get any better for Sanchez the next time the Jets had the ball. Starting on their own 47 after a horrible Andy Lee punt, Sanchez moves Gang Green to the San Fran 25 yard line. Scrambling left as the pocket protection broke down. Sanchez gets hit by Aldon Smith who then recovers the fumble. 9ers QB Alex Smith moves his team 56 yards on six plays resulting in a 36-yard David Akers field goal and a 10-0 halftime lead.

It was Deja Vu for Sanchez and the offense to start the third quarter as they turned the ball over again the first time they touched the ball. Attempting a short pass to Shaun Greene from his own 46, Sanchez is picked off by Patrick Willis after the ball is tipped by tackle Will Tukuafu. No harm was done as Akers misses a 40-yard field goal attempt but it stalled whatever momentum the Jets were trying to establish. The 9ers extended the lead to 17-0 after a Smith six-play, 52-yard drive. The big play, a 25-yard reception by Delanie Walker. The next turnover sealed the Jets fate and started the mass exodus by the New York faithful.

After completing a 4-yard pass, Santonio Holmes twisted his right knee as he fell to the turf. Holmes rolls over writhing in pain as the ball comes out of his hand and is picked up by Carlos Rogers who runs 51 yards for the backbreaking touchdown. The play was reviewed but the call was not overturned. The clock could not move fast enough for the Jets as they were completely outplayed in every facet by San Francisco.

How ugly was it for the New York Jets? The defense that Ryan touted as his best since he's been here, allowed 245 rushing yards. Three 49er backs ran for more than 50 yards. On offense, the Jets only gained 45 yards rushing. The offensive line didn't help Sanchez either. He was pressured almost every time he dropped back to pass, completing only 13 of 29 passes.

Said Sanchez of the team's overall performance, "this is not the way we imagined this game going. We just left too many opportunities out on the field."

Ryan was clearly steamed afterward using language he had to apologize for. Parents may want to shield their kids from the following quote.

"I apologize for my language," he began his postgame press conference. "Because I was going to say we got our butt kicked. But really, we got our ass kicked. There's no two ways ins or outs about it."

He then dissected how the ass whipping took place.
"We go in and it should be 7-3 at halftime. It's 10-0 because of the mistakes we make. Then we come out, turn the ball over four times. Here's the recipe for getting our ass kicked: 2 for 13 on third down that 15%, four turnovers, a blocked punt when they rush one guy and give up 245 rushing. How's that for a recipe."

Rex Ryan will allow his team the next two days off in order to let his team reflect on the loss.

Starting from the coaching staff to the players, they will need that time to get it together as they have the undefeated Houston Texans coming to New Jersey next Monday night.

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