Jets, Giants rediscover pressure, pain of December football


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Did you feel that agita for three-plus hours Sunday afternoon?

In case you forgot, welcome to December football that matters.

Around these parts, it had become an unfamiliar feeling in recent years, but it returned in full force on Sunday for both the Jets and Giants. Neither team or fan base ended up fully satisfied, but buckle up, because there’s plenty more of it on the way. It’s not easy and it will hardly ever be pretty, but it’s not supposed to be at this point on the calendar.

For the Jets, it was a game filled with missed opportunities — often in the red zone (1-for-6), which cost them a chance to knock off the now 10-2 Vikings and bolster their playoff standing. They trailed 20-3 and settled for five field goals on the day before finally entering the end zone with 6:45 left in the third quarter on Mike White’s fourth-down, second-effort QB sneak to pull within 27-22.

Then they had a first-and-goal at the Minnesota 4-yard line with two minutes left and got to the 1 but couldn’t fully break through, as White’s fourth-down pass to Braxton Berrios bounced in and out of his hands.

And even still, the Jets got one more shot after their defense forced a three-and-out and called three timeouts, but after giving some hope that they could pull off the wild win, White’s fourth-down pass from the Minnesota 19 ended up in the hands of the Vikings’ Camryn Bynum on the goal line to seal it.

Mike White got the Jets into position to take the lead over the Vikings late twice, but was unable to get the team into the end zone either time.
Getty Images

If nothing else? The Jets offered another reminder that they belong playing meaningful games at this time of year. Belonging won’t do them any good in the playoff race, but if they continue to play the way they did, especially in the second half, they will give themselves a fighting chance.

“By no means are we trying to make this a moral victory, because moral victories don’t count in the NFL,” White said. “But really proud of how the guys stayed together. There was no moaning and complaining on the sideline.

“We stared adversity straight in the face and responded. We just gotta respond better.”

After picking apart the Bears last week, White didn’t have much magic in the first half against the Vikings on Sunday. But he found some in the second half and his teammates responded around him, with some help from rookie receiver Garrett Wilson (eight receptions, 162 yards), who continues to look like a stud.

The defense also came to play. They allowed two long touchdown drives in the first half (74 yards and 86 yards) but buckled down in the second half. Cornerbacks Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed limited Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen to nine catches for 72 yards and one touchdown, which by the Vikings duo’s standards is not bad at all.

The best part of December football is that there is no time to sulk. The Bills are up next for the Jets, who will be trying to complete a season sweep of the defending AFC champs, this time in Buffalo.

Adam Thielen #19 of the Minnesota Vikings runs a route while Sauce Gardner #1 of the New York Jets defends during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 04, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Sauce Gardner and the Jets’ defense rebounded from a tough start to bottle up the Vikings’ passing game in the second half.
Getty Images

As for the Giants, well, they got a slightly better result — their first tie since 1997 — but it may have been less encouraging than the Jets’ loss.

They took a 20-13 lead over the Commanders early in the third quarter and looked like they might be on their way. But with a chance to ice it with a fourth-quarter drive starting at Washington’s 47-yard line, a taunting penalty by lineman Jon Feliciano — he flexed his muscles in a crowd of Commanders, but said it was directed at teammate Darius Slayton behind them after a big catch — set them back.

Washington eventually completed the comeback by tying the game with 1:45 left in regulation.

Then in overtime, Graham Gano’s 58-yard field goal attempt fell just short as time expired to clinch the second tie in the NFL this season.

“It’s not a loss, it’s not a win either,” Daniel Jones said. “I think you understand that part of it but just disappointed that we could’ve played better, could’ve taken advantage of some situations and won the game. That’s the disappointing part.”

It remains to be seen whether a tie could end up being the difference between the Giants making or missing the playoffs. They control their own destiny in that regard, though the road ahead remains challenging — hosting the Eagles next week, then a rematch with the Commanders before finishing with the Vikings, Colts and Eagles.

And the question still looms as to whether Odell Beckham Jr. might possibly join the Giants for that home stretch. But on Sunday he was preparing for a Monday meeting with the Cowboys while the Giants were tying the Commanders, who are now 6-1-1 over their last eight games.

Giants place kicker Graham Gano (9) misses the field goal as time expired in overtime on Dec. 4, 2022.
Graham Gano’s missed field goal in overtime cluttered the NFC East race and the Giants’ place in the playoiff picture.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

By the time the playoff picture is complete come January, Sunday could prove to be a huge missed opportunity for both the Jets and Giants. As of Sunday night, the Jets held onto the seventh and final playoff spot in the AFC, courtesy of the Chargers losing to the Raiders, while the Giants remained in sixth place in the NFC with the Seahawks picking up a little ground behind them.

For now, it was a reminder of what December football is supposed to feel like — three hours of heartburn that didn’t come from the snack you ate while watching, which still beats the late-season games that only matter for draft order.

Today’s back page

New York Post

Read more:

🏈 SERBY: Giants got what they deserved after Brian Daboll’s conservative call

⚽ CANNIZZARO: USMNT’s World Cup progress has all eyes turned eagerly to 2026: ‘On the way

🏈 O’CONNOR: Mike White only solidified his standing as Jets’ starting QB even in defeat

⚾ SHERMAN: Max Scherzer’s potential Mets opt-out may bring deGrom déjà vu, shape pitching plan

🏀 Nets unable to stop Jaylen Brown as loss to Celtics ends four-game win streak

The future is now for Mets, Yankees

MLB’s winter meetings got underway Sunday night in San Diego, but New York has a chance to be the major focus of them by the time they end on Wednesday.

The winter meetings often bring about some action in an offseason that is usually slow leading up to them. And while Jacob deGrom signing a five-year, $185 million deal with the Rangers on Friday served as a warmup, there could be even more big moves going down in the coming days.

New York Mets general manager Billy Eppler answers questions
Billy Eppler and the Mets may be busy this week in San Diego trying to rebuild a pitching staff without Jacob deGrom.

Two of the biggest questions? How the Mets will make up for not re-signing deGrom and whether Aaron Judge will pick his next destination this week — with the Yankees and Giants his two main suitors, barring a mystery team.

It’s true that the Mets won 101 games last season with only 64⅓ innings from deGrom. But they also got 339 innings from Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker, who are both currently free agents as well. The Mets don’t just have to make up for the loss of deGrom, they may need to cover for Bassitt and Walker going elsewhere too.

Common sense says the Mets need to sign one of Justin Verlander or Carlos Rodon and then one of Bassitt, Walker, Kodai Senga, Jameson Taillon or Andrew Heaney. That’s easier said than done in a market where pitchers are at a premium. But if the Mets need to overpay slightly to land Verlander or Rodon, they should do so, because they can’t waste another season in which a 38-year-old Max Scherzer is making $43.3 million.

New York Yankees Aaron Judge #99, is greeted by teammates after hitting a homerun in the 1st inning of the 2nd game of a doubleheader, his 62nd of the season, which passes Roger Maris, Jr., for the single season homerun record for the American League. A fan is in the background holding a #62 sign
Aaron Judge’s decision about where he’ll sign could set off a number of other free-agent signings.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Judge, meanwhile, would be doing his new team a favor by signing this week, allowing them to know how much of a budget they have to address other needs. And whenever Judge does sign, it could break the dam for other free agents to begin signing as the market shakes out.

A final Final Four

For the penultimate time before it expands to 12 teams, the College Football Playoff announced its four-team field on Sunday, and seemingly got it right. Here’s how it looks:

Peach Bowl: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Ohio State
Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 TCU

C.J. Stroud #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes throws a pass against the Utah Utes during the first quarter in the Rose Bowl Game at Rose Bowl Stadium on January 01, 2022 in Pasadena, California.
CJ Stroud and Ohio State found their way into the College Football Playoff without playing this past weekend thanks to USC’s loss in the Pac-12 title game.
Getty Images

Good on the committee for not punishing TCU for losing in the Big 12 championship and bumping up a two-loss team (as in No. 5 Alabama) that did not even make its conference title game. USC dropped out of the top four (all the way down to No. 10) because it lost in the Pac-12 championship, but that was the Trojans’ second loss as opposed to TCU, which entered Saturday undefeated.

The playoff field will officially expand to 12 teams in 2024. Here’s how that would look if it were in effect this year:

First-round byes: No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Clemson, No. 4 Utah
No. 5 TCU vs. No. 12 Tulane
No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Penn State
No. 7 Alabama vs. No. 10 USC
No. 8 Tennessee vs. No. 9 Kansas State

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