Giants Top Packers, Jets Decimated by Bills, Rangers Fall to Kings

Big Blue’s fourth straight victory was one of few highlights for New York over the weekend.

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Giants Down Packers
Before this year is over, the Giants may earn themselves the title of league’s streakiest team. After losing all of their first six games, they now stand at 6-4 on the year.

New York’s first drive of yesterday evening’s bout with the Packers was cut short by a face mask penalty near midfield, but their defense forced a three-and-out and Rueben Randle returned a punt for 32 yards to put them back in Green Bay territory. Eli Manning connected with Brandon Myers for 15 yards, then tossed a 26 yard deep ball into the end zone to Randle for the first scoring play of the game.

A Giants drive which bridged the first two quarters ended in a 40-yard field goal off the foot of Josh Brown, giving Big Blue a 10 point advantage. Scott Tolzien led his team across the field on the ensuing Packer possession, setting up a 24-yarder for Mason Crosby to make it 10-3. Manning brought the G-Men from their own 11-yard line to the Green Bay 15 with help by some big runs courtesy of Andre Brown, put a pass intended for Louis Murphy was picked off at the Packer 11 and returned for 10 yards.

New York’s defense made another stop only for its offense to go three-and-out, giving Green Bay a chance to put three more points on the board as time expired in the quarter.

Green Bay got the ball back to start the second half, but was not able to do much with it as Jon Beason picked Tolzien off to give Eli possession at midfield. After a 35 yard pass to Hakeem Nicks, the Giants had to settle for another field goal and went ahead 13-6. On their next drive, Manning connected with Victor Cruz for 47 yards on 3 passes, leading to an eventual second and goal from the 1-yard line. Brandon Jacobs, who had not played since sustaining an injury on October 10, powered through the Packers’ defensive line to give Big Blue a commanding 20-6 lead.

A 52 yard pass from Tolzien to Eddie Lacy put Green Bay right back in the game as it led to their first touchdown of the night, and put them within 7 points of New York. A NY three-and-out gave them an ideal chance to march toward the end zone again from their own 30, but Jason Pierre-Paul knocked the wind out of their sails as he picked Tolzien off and ran the ball back 24 yards for a touchdown, putting the G-Men up 27-13. The game ended with that score, as the Giants won their fourth straight.

Eli went 25/35 for 279 yards with a TD and an interception. Brown led the team in rushing with 66 yards on 18 carries, followed by Jacobs with 9 yards and a TD on 5 runs. Cruz led in receiving with 110 yards on 8 catches, followed by Nicks with 50 on 4, and Randle with 37 and a TD on 3 receptions. JPP, Beason, and Rolle each had a pick.

With that win, the Giants keep pace with the Eagles and gain half a game on the Cowboys who had a BYE this week. They will try to extend their winning streak when they host the well-rested Cowboys at 4:25 PM next Sunday; it will also presumably be their first time facing a “franchise” quarterback for a full game since the streak began.

Jets Routed in Buffalo
The Jets have been alternating wins and losses for the entire season; they were hoping to finally string together two-straight victories when they entered Buffalo off a BYE week yesterday, but the Bills were ready to get some payback for the 27-20 defeat suffered earlier this year.

Geno Smith managed to recover his own fumble on the first drive of the game, but could not advance the ball on the ensuing downs, initiating a defensive tug-of-war which saw the Jets punt three times and the Bills punt twice in the opening quarter.

Buffalo was finally able to break the onto the scoreboard with a 40-yard field goal to start the second and, after New York went three-and-out, EJ Manuel heaved a 34 yard pass to TJ Graham for a Bills touchdown, putting the Jets down 10-0.

The punishment continued as Geno was hit hard on the second play of Gang Green’s next drive, fumbling again and this time turning the ball over in the process. With just four yards between them and the endzone, Buffalo ran the ball up the middle twice, taking a 17-0 lead after the second attempt. The Jets fared no better on their next possession, as Smith threw an interception on the third snap to Jairus Byrd who returned it for 21 yards to the Jets’ 5-yard line. An illegal block to the back sent Buffalo 22 yards backwards and they ultimately had to settle for a field goal, which they got. The Bills entered halftime up 20-0.

New York was finally able to get on the scoreboard in the third quarter after a failed Buffalo punt fake gave them prime field position. Smith connected with Santonio Holmes on a deep pass for 38 yards, and Chris Ivory ran the ball in to cut the spread down to 13. Unfortunately two straight deep balls thrown by Manuel—the first to Graham for 40 yards and the second to Goodwin for 43—put Buffalo right back into the end zone.

Smith was picked off by Byrd for a second time on the next Jets drive. Though the Jets’ defense managed a stop, a third Smith interception (this one picked off by Searcy) was returned all the way to give the Bills a 34-7 edge entering the final quarter.

The fourth opened with the Jets punting the ball away, and when they got it back Geno Smith was benched in favor of Matt Simms. Simms threw for 35 yards on his first two passes, then connected with Jeff Cumberland for the second New York touchdown of the afternoon. A Bills field goal on the next drive proved the last scoring play of the game, and the Jets fell 37-14.

Geno Smith went 8/23 for 103 yards with 2 fumbles and 3 interceptions; Simms went 4/6 for 60 yards and a TD. Chris Ivory led the team in rushing with 98 yard and a touchdown on 15 carries, and Holmes led in receiving with 2 catches for 71 yards.

The Jets will try to get back over .500 when they play the struggling Super Bowl champion Ravens at 1:00 PM on Sunday. They are the only team in NFL history to alternate wins and losses through the season’s first 10 games, and now hope to be the first to do it through 11.

Rangers Win, Lose in Shutouts
The Rangers’ offense was rather ineffective over the weekend, managing to score just one goal over the course of two games. Fortunately for them, that one goal—which came on a Ryan Callahan tip in during a power play in Saturday’s match against the Canadiens—was just enough to edge out Montreal for a shutout victory on Saturday night.

Cam Talbot blocked a perfect 22 of 22 shots on the night for his first NHL shutout. It was the first Rangers shutout in the Bell Centre since Eddie Giacomin help New York earn a 5-0 route in 1967.

The stellar defensive play continued last night as the team returned to Madison Square Garden to host the LA Kings, but the offense did not improve. None of the team’s 37 shots on goal managed to make it past LA’s Ben Scrivens, and early in the second period Tyler Toffoli snapped the puck past Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist stopped 29 shots on the night, but that was not good enough to prevent a 1-0 defeat for New York.

The Rangers will host the Bruins at 7:30 PM tomorrow night before going on a 5-game road trip.

Islanders Defeat Detroit
The Islanders ended a three game home stretch with a match against Detroit on Saturday, and the two were battled back and forth throughout the night. John Taveres gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead 4:03 into the first period on a tip-in, but 9 seconds later Darren Helm scored on a wrist shot to tie it. With under three minutes to go in the period, the Red Wings scored on a power play to take a 2-1 advantage.

That score held for over a period’s worth of play, but an offensive outburst late in the second changed the complexion of the game. Casey Cizikas backhanded in the tying goal with 2:10 left in the frame; John Franzen put Detroit ahead again 33 seconds later, but Brock Nelson scored on a Tavares assist with 50 seconds on the clock to tie the score 3-3.

When Cal Clutterbuck tipped in the fourth Islanders goal early in the third, New York had its first lead since the 9 seconds it spent up 1-0 back in the first. Unfortunately the lead did not hold, as Detroit managed to tie the game once more at 4 apiece with 43 seconds left in regulation, sending the game into overtime.

New York was unable to take advantage of a power play in the OT period, but Frans Nielsen scored in the first round of the ensuing shootout, leading to a home win for the Islanders. In addition to blocking all three attempts made in the shootout, Kevin Poulin blocked 19 of 22 shots after coming in to relieve Nabokov, who left early in the first period with a groin injury.

The Islanders will travel to Toronto tomorrow night to face the Maple Leafs at 7:00 PM. They currently stand at sixth place in the Metropolitan division, but are only a point behind the third place Rangers.

Nets Falter on West Coast
What began as a mediocre start to the season for Jason Kidd’s Nets is starting to turn into a real problem for the team’s future. They entered Saturday’s game against the Clippers 3-5 on the season, and were missing four starters due to injury (Lopez, Williams, and Garnett all had ankle injuries, and Pierce was resting a sore groin).

Despite the short staff and losing record, Brooklyn put up a real fight through most of the night. Tyshawn Taylor tied the game at 21 apiece on a pair of free throws late in the first quarter and, though LA pulled ahead afterward, Brooklyn managed to stay within three at the end of the frame, entering the second down 29-26.

A pair of Mason Plumlee dunks and a Mirza Teletovic layup gave the Nets 6 unanswered points and a 32-29 advantage to start the second. They clung to that lead, expanding it to as much as 9 as the period progressed, and exited the half still ahead by 1 with a 55-54 lead.

Brooklyn scored 10 straight to start the second half, with back-to-back threes from Alan Anderson doing the heavy lifting, but an 18-4 LA run ensued, putting the Clippers back ahead 74-67. The Nets fought back to close what was a very streaky quarter, entering the fourth down by a single point.

The Clippers stayed a step ahead throughout the fourth. Though Brooklyn closed within a shot at multiple points during the frame, including a Livingston jumper which made it 103-106 with 20 seconds on the clock, LA kept pulling ahead. Los Angeles scored the last four points of the game on free throws, taking a 110-103 victory and handing the Nets their sixth loss.

Blatche and Plumlee led the team in scoring with 19 apiece, followed by Anderson’s 15. Johnson and Taylor both posted 13, and Livingston shot for 11.

Now tied with the Knicks for last place in the Atlantic division, The Nets will return home to host the 8-2 Trail Blazers at 7:30 PM tonight.

Knicks Blown Out Again
The Knicks managed to edge out the Hawks last Wednesday in a much needed bounce back from last Sunday’s blowout suffered at the hands of the Spurs. They hoped to do the same on Saturday following a close loss to the Rockets, but Atlanta was not willing to go down for a second time in four days.

The game was close in the early going, with a pair of Anthony free throws giving New York a 26-24 lead to close out the first quarter (4 of his 6 points came from the foul line in that frame). A 17-3 run in the second quarter, however, put Atlanta ahead 41-29. The Knicks cut the deficit back down to single digits, but still entered halftime trailing 54-47.

The third quarter went no better for New York; they stayed behind by the same margin for most of the period, then sunk even further as Martin and Scott sunk back-to-back threes to put Atlanta up 80-69 in the last 32 seconds. The gap only widened in the fourth, as the Hawks took a 110-90 victory over the Knicks.

Carmelo Anthony led the team with 12 rebounds and 23 points on 8-21 from the field. Bargnani backed him up with 16 points and 9 rebounds, followed by Shumpert with 11 and 7. JR Smith scored just 7 points on 3-18 from the field and 1-9 from three-point territory.  

The Knicks will try to move back in the right direction when they face the Pistons at 7:30 PM tonight, but they will have to face the 9-1 Pacers at 7:00 PM on Wednesday.