EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The preseason bragging rights for the New York metropolitan area belong to the Jets, although neither Rex Ryan’s team nor the Giants have much to be happy about.
Mark Sanchez threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes and the Jets capitalized on two big special teams plays in 17-3 victory Monday night in a preseason game delayed two days by Hurricane Irene’s devastating march up the East Coast.
Bilal Powell had a 1-yard TD run in the fourth quarter and the Jets defense intercepted Eli Manning twice in what probably will be the last major warmup for both teams’ starters before the regular season.
The Jets (2-1) will face the Eagles here Thursday. The Giants (1-2) finish their preseason at New England, also on Thursday.
The chippy game featured the Giants’ Brandon Jacobs and the Jets’ Muhammad Wilkerson being ejected for a fight, a lot of penalties and enough bad plays to make Ryan and counterpart Tom Coughlin concerned with the regular season less than two weeks away.
The banged-up Giants also had defensive end Justin Tuck (stinger) and linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka (groin) leave the game with injuries.
The Jets didn’t appear to have any major injuries in the exhibition. They did have more big plays in the game that was hyped as Plaxico Burress’ first meeting with the Giants since being released from prison.
Unlike a week ago when he scored a touchdown, the Super Bowl hero was shut out. He didn’t catch any of the three passes that Sanchez threw in his direction, and he even made the wrong call in the pregame coin toss.
Jets special teams guru Mike Westhoff saw his unit provide the key plays.
Antonio Cromartie set up Holmes’ touchdown with a 70-yard kickoff return, and defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert blocked a Rhys Lloyd 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 half with a 34-yarder.
Cromartie’s big return came on the ensuing kickoff. 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.
The only thing the long-time rivals showed in the first half is their defenses are ready for the regular season and the offenses still need a lot of work.
The Giants outgained the Jets 224-73 in the half and trailed 7-3 because Manning could not capitalize 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.
Manning and company jumped to a 3-0 lead, taking advantage when linebacker Clint Sintim recovered a Sanchez 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 didn’t register their first first down until they got a favorable spot on a fourth-and-1 from their own 28 late in the first quarter.