Julio Cortez, Associated Press
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Jets put their playoff hopes in Mark Sanchez's hands against the Giants' porous pass defense.
The maligned quarterback couldn't deliver. Just like most of his teammates.
Sanchez threw a career-high 59 passes, completing 30 of them, but also had two interceptions and lost a fumble inside the 5-yard line in the Jets' 29-14 loss that was a devastating blow to their playoff hopes.
"We had a good opportunity to control our own destiny," Sanchez said. "It's completely our fault."
This was supposed to be the season the New York Jets got back to the Super Bowl and walked away with the Lombardi Trophy. Remember, Rex Ryan guaranteed it.
Well guess what? The Jets (8-7) had everything in place to make the boast come true and they gave it away over the past two weeks with a dreadful loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week and this embarrassing setback in which Ryan's team didn't step up after a week of bragging about how good they are.
To get to the playoffs, the Jets have to beat Miami next weekend and get help, and lots of it. They have to hope for Cincinnati and Tennessee to lose, and either have Oakland or Denver lose next week to make the playoffs.
"I mean, we don't deserve to control our own destiny," linebacker Bart Scott said. "We haven't played good enough football to do that. We need to try to finish strong, but if you don't make it to the playoffs, you've got nobody to blame but yourself."
The loss to the Giants was stunning, especially after the Jets bragged they were the better team because they went to the AFC title game the past two years.
They didn't play like a title contender. After scoring on their first possession, they did nothing on offense. Sanchez turned the ball over three times, and the offense was 4 of 21 on third down and the line allowed five sacks. Defensively, the secondary missed a couple of tackles on Victor Cruz's record 99-yard go-ahead touchdown catch for the Giants and they saw Ahmad Bradshaw run over them on touchdown runs of 14 and 19 yards.
"This was a big game for us and in big games, you can't make mistakes," said cornerback Darrelle Revis, who was outstanding in defeat. "As well as we did play on defense, there were a couple of plays that we gave to them. It's real sad right now. We needed this win. We made some mistakes and they outplayed us."
Neither the Giants nor Jets looked much like playoff material, but the Giants can now win the NFC East with a victory over Dallas here next Sunday.
"To be honest with you, we need to put this one aside as fast as we can and go to work on Dallas with the same attitude we had last week," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "Basically, I just walked into the team meeting Tuesday and said, 'if we win two, then we are in. I am not going to focus on last week's game at all, everything that we are going to do is in front of us.'
Cruz, who had three catches for 164 yards, broke Amani Toomer's single-season mark for yards receiving — and the team's record for longest touchdown reception, a 99-yarder that gave the Giants the lead for good in the second quarter.
Ryan set the tone early in the week, saying he believed his club was the better team in the area. Tom Coughlin responded by saying, "Talk is cheap. Play the game."
It was the Giants who did.
"They were the better team today, and they're the better team this year," Ryan said. "Clearly, I was wrong."
The back-and-forth continued even before the game, when Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes and running back Brandon Jacobs both removed black curtains placed by the Jets over the Giants' Super Bowl logos. The Jets said it was simply their standard practice to cover those logos for every one of the team's home games, regardless of opponent, because it is the players' entrance.
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