Giants fans could be forgiven for waking up Monday morning feeling colder than the sudden autumn chill in the air. New York’s pro football team had blown it big time on Sunday Night Football, losing to their division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, despite having a 6-point lead with minutes to go in the fourth quarter. A season-opening victory in Texas would have made a huge statement for Big Blue.
But Coach Tom Coughlin and QB Eli Manning snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, opting to pass on the goal line—shades of the Seahawks’ Super Bowl fiasco last year—and it backfired. Manning’s incomplete pass sailed out of bounds, stupidly stopping the clock, and ultimately giving Cowboys’ QB Tony Romo almost a minute and a half to win the game, 27-to-26.
For the Giants, the debacle marked their fifth straight season-opening loss. Adding fuel to the fire, Manning had just signed a four-year, $84 million contract extension before heading to Texas.
A Giants’ win would have given them a record equal to the other New York team whose home locker room is the Meadowlands of New Jersey—the triumphant Jets, who flattened the Cleveland Browns in Todd Bowles’ coaching debut for Gang Green.
The lop-sided 31-to-10 win at home didn’t come cheap, of course. Key cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who inked a four-year contract during the offseason, suffered what looked like a torn ACL, a season-ending injury, which fortunately turned out to be a very bad knee bruise, but more seriously, Lorenzo Mauldin, a rookie linebacker, looked unconscious lying face down on the field with what could still be a career-altering concussion. He spent the night in the hospital, a mute reminder of the toll this violent sport takes on its athletes.
And while we’re still thinking of the Jets, let’s take a moment to check out how well former coach Rex Ryan did up in Buffalo with his new team, the Bills, the only true New York team in the NFL. With Tyrod Taylor his starting QB and Boobie Dixon =) and Karlos Williams on offense, Ryan’s ground-and-pound game plan smothered the Indianapolis Colts, 27-to-14, on a day when their much better known quarterback Andrew Luck was favored to come out on top. As Luck would have it, “They beat us pretty bad.”
So after a Sunday when most other New York sports fans had something to cheer about, the Giants extended family were alone in their grief.
Reveling in despair and depression has been the typical feeling this time of year for Mets fans used to enduring the waning weeks of the baseball season as the local focus in New York would shift to the Yankees’ likely playoff chances and the start of the NFL and weekend soccer league games.
But 2015 has been anything but typical in our sports world.
In Atlanta, home of the dreaded Braves, the Mets did all they could to play flat and lose, being down by three runs with two outs and two strikes left at the top of the ninth. Not only did Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy tie the game with a three-run homer, the team from Queens did something almost unheard of—at least to long-suffering Mets fans: they swept the Braves. They scored three more runs at the top of the 10th inning, and won the final game of the series, 10-to-7.
And so they head home to NYC, with a 9-and-a-half game lead over their nearest division rival, the underachieving Washington Nationals, and talk starts heating up about their playoff rotation for their star pitchers. Did we mention that Sunday’s game—their 82nd victory—gave them their first winning season since 2008?
But what about New York City’s other Major League team with playoff hopes, the Yankees? The Bronx Bombers had a chance to regain the division lead over the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend but by Sunday afternoon, the pin-stripers were desperate for a win. Fortunately, for them, they managed to shut down Toronto’s knuckle-ball ace, R.A. Dickey, who endeared himself to a generation of Mets fans when he played in Queens before the trade to Canada. The Yanks shut down the Jays, 5-to-0, keeping them within striking distance of the first place team and, more to the point, still in the wild card hunt.
And there, but for a Metro Card, rest the prospects of a Subway Series in October.
Let’s not forget the big news in two other sports related to NYC: The Liberty clinched home-court advantage through the WNBA playoffs for the first time at Madison Square Garden, and Novak Djokovic beat tennis favorite Roger Federer before an unfriendly crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, where the U.S. Open holds court within sight of Citi Field. Baseball might be played there later this year than usual, weather permitting.