By Peter Schwartz
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"I never came here to be little brother to anybody, so it's on."
Rex Ryan - December 19, 2011
There's really nothing wrong with being a little brother. At least I think so. I wouldn't know the feeling since I'm a big brother. But there really shouldn't be any shame in being a little brother.
I mean, how bad can it be?
But while my baby brother and I always had a great relationship, we didn't always agree on everything and sometimes things can get a little heated. Plus, there's the jealousy factor.
In the case of the Jets and the Giants, it's a little more than just a sibling rivalry. It's about history, success on the field and the constant bickering between the fans of Gang Green and Big Blue.
All this conflict exists despite the fact that they play in the regular season only once every four years.
Let's be honest, the Giants had a huge head start in the history department as they were formed in 1925 while the Jets were born in 1960 as the Titans. As far as winning, the Jets were the first to win a Super Bowl, but the Giants have been to four of them since then, winning three championships.
For many years, the Giants and Jets played the big brother-little brother game but they did so from their own homes. The Jets were at Shea while the Giants moved around from Yankee Stadium to the Yale Bowl to one season at Shea and then to Giants Stadium in New Jersey.
But things changed in 1984 when the Jets left Shea to share Giants Stadium with Big Blue. Since then, they have been not only the little brother, but to many they are viewed as second class citizens, the house guests that won't leave. The annoying tenant.
Jet fans had to endure the pain of driving to home games and seeing that big sign "Giants Stadium" at the top of the building. It was a tough pill to swallow. I mean, if you're a Mets fan, could you even imagine what it would be like to play at "Yankee Stadium."
I'll give all of you Mets fans a chance to regroup from that thought.
But there's a good analogy. There's a theory that most Jets fans are also Mets fans and that most Yankee fans are also fans of the Giants. There seems to be more fans of the teams that have been around longer and just like the Giants 3-1 Super Bowl title edge of the Jets, the Yankees have won 27 World Championships to the Mets' two titles.
You can make the argument that the Jets are still second-class citizens even though they were partners with the Giants in the building of MetLife Stadium. However, the new stadium is in the same parking lot as the old one and the Giants practice at the Meadowlands while the Jets practice in Florham Park.
I'd say the Jets are still looking for a home of their own despite the fact that they coughed up half the money to build the new place.
It's time for the little brother to say, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"
"Is it a Giant town or a Jet town," wonders Ryan. "There seems to be a fine line. There are a lot of Giants fans, a lot of Jets fans and that's fine, but there is no way I'm going to be second fiddle. If we were playing the New York Yankees, I don't want to be second fiddle to them. It's the same type of deal. That's kind of my approach here. I want to be the best team in football, not just the best team in this city, but we'll start by being the best team in this city."
After Giants coach Tom Coughlin fired back at Rex by saying "talk is cheap, play the game," Ryan wasn't about to let his counterpart have the final world.
"That is the old saying," said Ryan. "Talk is cheap, money buys whiskey. I understand all of that. You know, that's the truth. I don't care about Tom Coughlin or anybody else. I know how I believe. I don't care if it's acceptable in everybody's opinion. I really don't care. I'm worried about my opinion. This is how I feel. Quite honestly, I could care less what anybody thinks."
Ryan and the Jets will get their chance to show that they're the top dog in the Big Apple on Saturday at MetLife Stadium in the 12th regular season meeting between Gang Green and the Giants. But the stakes in the previous eleven encounters pale in comparison to what's on the line this Christmas Eve or depending on your faith, the fifth night of Hanukkah.
By the time kickoff arrives at 1 p.m. on Saturday, the media and the fans will have dissected every angle of this game. Jets vs. Giants! Big Apple Battle! Bragging rights on the line!
But none of those can qualify as the most important aspect of this game.
"Personally, I could care less about that," said Jets linebacker Bart Scott. "It's about getting to the playoffs. I could care less about the Jets-Giants thing. If this was some other time, maybe that would be more important earlier in the season. Right now, it's about the playoffs."
It's the biggest game between these two teams since the Jets knocked the Giants out of the playoffs in the 1988 regular season finale.
Both teams have playoff destiny in their own hands with two games to ago and a loss for either club could very well end any post-season dreams. At 8-6, the Jets can punch their ticket to a third straight playoff berth with wins over the Giants and Dolphins. The Giants can win the NFC East with wins over the Jets and Cowboys.
One Jet who will certainly be fired up for the game is former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress. He caught the game-winning touchdown for Big Blue in Super Bowl XLII but his Giants career came to an end the following season when he shot himself in the leg at a New York City nightclub.
After two years in prison, Burress signed with the Jets and has played well this season with eight touchdown catches. He still relishes his days with the Giants, but now, he bleeds green.
"It's a business first," said Burress. "I still share good relationships with some of those guys. But, when we go out there on Saturday, we're enemies for the next three-and-a-half, four hours. So we all understand that it's going to be some good competition and I mean, just look at the circumstances of this game. The loser of that game won't go to the playoffs, Christmas Eve, Jets versus the Giants. This is what New York is all about. It couldn't be a better setting."
The Jets offense will have a chance to make some plays down field against a Giants secondary that has not played well this season. However, Mark Sanchez is going to have to be kept upright in order to make that happen.
"I think their pass rushers up front are some of the best in the league," said Sanchez. "I think their experience in the secondary is great. They made a lot of plays. They get after the quarterback pretty well. They're tough in the run game. When they drop in their zones or play man-to-man, they usually have great technique and it's important for us to be at our very best to try and exploit some things and hopefully have a great game."
One match-up that bears noting is Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson going up against Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. While JPP will likely move around a bit and have a chance to exploit right tackle Wayne Hunter, Ferguson will spend plenty of time trying to keep him away from Sanchez.
"I think he's a great defensive end," said Ferguson. "I think he's a young guy with a lot of talent. He's doing well in this league. I think it'll be a great battle between our line and myself against him. I think he just takes advantage of opportunities given to him. He has a lot of talent."
Since Ryan took over the Jets in 2009, Gang Green has clearly had more success going to two straight AFC Championship games while the Giants have missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.
But who is the better team in 2011?
"You get to prove it on Saturday," said Ryan. "You don't get to prove it against them for another four years. Obviously the playoffs are the biggest thing. The loser basically is out of the playoffs, so obviously that's the number one thing. But don't kid yourself, this is still a big thing when both of us play in the same stadium, MetLife Stadium."
One might remember that commercial some years ago when Wayne Chrebet, Curtis Martin, and Steve Atwater all snuck into Giants Stadium and made their way into a room and flipped a switch that changed the sign outside from "Giants Stadium" to "Jets Stadium" as a confused worker cleaning the parking lot looked on.
If the Jets can win on Sunday, maybe they can change all the signs to read "JetLife Stadium."
THE JETS/GIANTS SERIES
This will be the 12th regular season contest between the Jets and the Giants. Big Blue leads the all-time series 7-4. The Giants have won four in a row including the most recent game, a 35-24 win over the Jets in 2007 at Giants Stadium.
Back in 1970, the Giants won the first regular season contest between the football locals winning 22-10 at Yankee Stadium. In 1974, the Jets beat the Giants winning 26-20 in overtime at the Yale Bowl.
Perhaps the most memorable game in the series from a Jets standpoint was in 1988 when Ken O'Brien's touchdown pass with 37 seconds left gave the Jets a 27-21 victory that knocked the Giants out of the playoffs.
Thanks to newyorkjets.com, you can relive that victory here…
The last Jets win over the Giants was in 1993 when the Jets beat the Giants 10-6.
Remember that defensive stand at the end of the game?
Thanks again to newyorkjets.com!
GET YOUR GREEN ON!
Ryan has challenged the Gang Green faithful and he's doing it again for Saturday's contest with the Giants. He wants to make sure the Giants know who the home team is.
Ryan is requesting that Jets fans wear the appropriate apparel on Saturday.
"Let's everybody deck out in green, if you can," said Ryan. "If we could wear green, that would be fantastic. We're going to give out the white towels and really have a playoff atmosphere. I think when we get that kind of energy out of our fans, it's going to go a long way to helping us achieve what we want to do, and that is to have a huge win on Saturday and keep our playoff hopes alive. That's what my shout-out is to the fans."
I'm wondering if Ryan also wants those of us who cover the Jets to wear green in the press box to make the Giants reporters feel uncomfortable?
Shonn Greene needs 59 yard over the final two games to notch his first career 1,000 yard rushing season.
If the Jets win on Saturday, they will finish the season with a 7-1 home record. The last time the Jets won 7 games at home in a season was in 1998.
The Jets lead the NFL with a "Red Zone" efficiency of 68.1%. the Jets have scored touchdowns on 32 out of 47 trips inside the red zone.
The Jets defense ranks third in the NFL with a third down conversion rate of 31.5%. They are 4th in opponents' passer rating (70.7) and fourth in opponents' completion percentage (54.5).
David Harris has notched three interceptions this season, the most by a Jets linebacker since Jonathan Vilma recorded three in 2004.
I don't think there's a result that would surprise anyone on Saturday. Both teams have experienced up and down seasons and both of them are coming off of blowout losses. It's not a week where players, coaches or fans from either team should be pounding their chests with pride.
Having said that, somebody has to win and continue their quest for a playoff spot. Just a hunch but I think the Jets will find a way to pull out a victory.
Jets 24, Giants 20
That's all for now! Check back after the game for more!
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