What Giants, Jets face in Week 3 after surprising wins
The first Sunday in nearly 13 years to provide New York sports fans with victories by the Giants, Jets, Mets and Yankees on the same day left us with plenty to unpack involving all four of those local teams.
On the NFL side, the 2-0 Giants and the receipt-keeping Jets did their share during a fun-filled weekend replete with thrills and unexpected developments, regardless of your rooting allegiance.
Still, impressive wins by the local teams weren’t the only significant moments or impactful results across the league this weekend. Here are five storylines that emerged in Week 2 and our best crack at breaking down what they mean:
They might be Giants
Don’t, don’t, don’t let’s start, but this is the best part of Big Blue’s early-season wins over the Titans and the Panthers:
After finishing last season with a 4-13 mark, Saquon Barkley and the Giants suddenly have a legitimate chance to open this season 4-0 with upcoming home games Monday night against the depleted Cowboys and the following Sunday against the Bears.
With starting quarterback Dak Prescott sidelined for Dallas due to a hand injury, backup Cooper Rush limited the mistakes and fronted a 20-17 win Sunday over the Bengals, who have started 0-2 following last year’s Super Bowl run.
Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones said Sunday “there’s a chance” Prescott could be back to face the Giants, against whom he owns a 9-2 lifetime record. And Micah Parsons is an absolute wrecking ball on defense with four sacks already.
Along those lines, the potential season debuts of injured linebackers Kayvon Thibodeaux (the No. 5 overall pick in the draft) and Azeez Ojulari (eight sacks as a rookie last season) would provide a needed boost to a Giants pass rush that has totaled three sacks under new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale through their two victories. And defensive lineman Leonard Williams likely will miss some time after suffering a sprained MCL in following Sunday’s win.
Head coach Brian Daboll and the Giants still have much to prove before they can be declared legitimate playoff contenders, especially with the injury histories of Barkley and Daniel Jones.
But matching last year’s win total through four weeks is certainly attainable, and who expected to read that sentence before the season started?
J-E-T-S, yes, yes yes
Same deal with the Giants — momentum and success often are fleeting in the NFL. But Robert Saleh can look over whatever receipts he wants for a day or two following a thrilling comeback win Sunday in Cleveland, a big boy gut-check if there ever was one.
As uninspired as the Jets played in a Week 1 loss to the Ravens, they continued competing and clawed their way back to overcome a 13-point deficit with under two minutes remaining to upend the Browns, 31-30, on the road.
Veteran backup QB Joe Flacco was at his Joe Coolest level in the closing minutes, including a bomb to a wide-open Corey Davis and the go-ahead touchdown pass to impressive rookie Garrett Wilson with 22 seconds remaining. The No. 10 overall pick looked like a viable No. 1 receiving option with 102 yards and two scores after not getting many opportunities the previous week.
With starter Zach Wilson still working his way back from a preseason knee injury, the 37-year-old Flacco already has proven his value as a fill-in with 307 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Whether Zach Wilson returns this week or sits out until the previously targeted Week 4 matchup against the Steelers, Saleh was right Monday in saying “it’s time to move on” to prepare for the dangerously winless Bengals. The euphoria over Sunday’s thriller will dissipate quickly if the Jets come up with a stinker one week later against the defending AFC champs.
A one and a Tua…
Tua Tagovailoa’s size wasn’t an issue Sunday for the Dolphins, who tossed a career-best six touchdown passes in another crazy comeback, a 42-38 win over the Ravens to improve to 2-0.
Tagovailoa, who raised eyebrows last week when he said that he and his receivers have trouble seeing each other sometimes due to his height (6-foot-1), leads the NFL with 739 passing yards through two games.
The newly formed deep-threat combo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle has been lethal already for Miami, giving the former Alabama star quarterback the necessary weapons to live up to his 2020 draft billing (fifth overall).
An early-season AFC East test comes for the Fish on Sunday in a divisional battle against the mighty Bills, who also are 2-0 following a 41-7 rout of the Titans on Monday night.
Welcome back, Jimmy G
And this is precisely why the 49ers were wise to retain Jimmy Garoppolo.
Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in 2021, suffered what is expected to be a season-ending ankle injury before Garoppolo came off the bench to lead the Niners to an NFC West win, 27-7, over the Seahawks.
Jimmy G already was the highest-paid backup quarterback in the NFL when he inked a restructured one-year deal in August worth a guaranteed $6.5 million and playing-time incentives that could push the value of the contract to nearly $16 million. The nine-year NFL veteran will receive an additional $250,000 for every game in which he takes at least 25 percent of the offensive snaps, a figure he will attain each week as long as he remains healthy.
The Niners were a likely playoff contender with either quarterback at the helm, but Garoppolo’s bonuses also would double per postseason start and rise to $1 million with at least 50 percent of the snaps in the Super Bowl. That’s a lot of Gs.
If you can’t do the time…
Football fights are even dumber than hockey fights, and Mike Evans deservedly earned a one-game suspension for his role in the Buccaneers’ fracas during Sunday’s win over the Saints.
Evans reportedly will appeal the ban, perhaps leaving him available for this week’s game against the Packers. Tom Brady and the Bucs already played Sunday without injured receivers Chris Godwin and Julio Jones, and losing Evans would be another blow to a banged-up group.
Evans, who shoved Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore from behind during Sunday’s fight, should have his ban upheld, especially since he also was suspended in 2017 for a similar altercation involving Lattimore.
The first step
The Mets held a subdued celebration after officially qualifying for the postseason for the first time since 2016, and now there are 13 games remaining to decide whether they will enter the playoffs as NL East champion — with the first-round bye that will accompany that crown — or as a wild card.
The most important news for Buck Showalter’s team, win or lose Monday night, was the triumphant return of co-ace Max Scherzer from the injured list with six perfect innings for his 200th career win in a 7-2 victory in Milwaukee.
A locked-and-loaded duo of Scherzer and Jacob deGrom atop the rotation makes the Mets an imposing opponent for any team in the National League, including the league-best Dodgers, especially with injuries to starting pitchers Walker Buehler and Tony Gonsolin.
With a one-game lead over the surging Braves, keep those three games in Atlanta in the penultimate series of the regular season (Sept. 30-Oct. 2) circled on the calendar.
Sixty one, 61 years after 61?
An interesting few days in The Bronx begin with Tuesday’s first of two games against the Pirates as should-be MVP Aaron Judge is one home run away from matching Babe Ruth’s career-high total of 60 home runs and two from tying Roger Maris’ 61-year-old American League and franchise-record of 61, set in 1961.
With Thursday’s series opener against the Red Sox on FOX, Friday night’s game on Apple TV+ and Sunday’s finale against Boston on ESPN, Michael Kay and the Yankees’ everyday YES crew might not be in the booth to call Judge’s historic blast.
“I’ve thought about it,” Kay told The Post’s Andrew Marchand last week. “I’m not going to be selfish. When he does it, he does. It will be a bummer if YES is not covering it. Forget about just me, but for YES, that would stink. It is what it is. And if he hits it on one of the days that we’re not doing the game and we just have to live with it.”
Will Judge blast those historically significant homers over the next couple of days?
The Triple Crown contender has never faced Pirates rookie right-hander Luis Ortiz, whose start Tuesday will be the second of his big-league career after he tossed 5 ⅔ innings of shutout ball in his debut last week against the Reds. Wednesday’s starter will be another rookie righty, Roansy Contreras, who also has never faced Judge or the Yankees.
The eliminated Red Sox are lined up to pitch Michael Wacha, Rich Hill, Nick Pivetta and Brayan Bello this weekend at the Stadium. Judge is a combined 8-for-31 (.258) with two homers (both against Pivetta) and 10 strikeouts (nine vs. Wacha) in his career against that foursome.
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