September is easily the best month of the year for sports. The beginning of college and NFL football seasons, the winding down pennant races in Major League Baseball, and that’s just about it. It was quite an interesting weekend in the world of New York sports as well.
The defending Super Bowl champions fought back from a 14 point deficit to stun the upstart Tampa Bay Buccaneers to avoid starting the season 0-2. Eli Manning overcame three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown and the other two setting up TB scores to throw for a career high 510 yards and three touchdowns. Manning tied the game on an 80 yard catch and run to the ridiculous Victor Cruz. Some of the stuff Manning and the G-Men have been well known for the past couple years. Very crucial victory for the Giants as they will hit the road for some tough games in Carolina, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Dallas.
The Yankees also played host to a Tampa Bay team, their arch rival, the Rays. After dropping Friday’s matchup between Cy Young candidate David Price and struggling Bomber ace CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova returned from the DL and delivered a crucial victory on Saturday, and the Yankees were able to take the rubber match on Sunday thanks to the resurgent Russell Martin and his huge three run homer off Matt Moore which proved to be the difference.
The Bombers will continue their crucial stretch and will send 40 year old Andy Pettitte back to the mound for the first time since June on Tuesday against Toronto. Although he’ll be on an extreme pitch count restriction, the Yanks will hope for positive results against a injury depleted Blue Jays lineup. The Yankees will hope to be able to pull away from the Orioles and Rays in the AL East as they get very close to full strength.
As for the Jets, I really thought they had a good chance to win, especially with Troy Polamalu and James Harrison out for Pittsburgh, and a shaky offensive line protecting QB Ben Roethlisberger confidence got even higher after a brilliant opening drive that led to a Mark Sanchez TD pass to former Steeler and Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes. Just like Week One against Buffalo, Gang Green was moving the ball efficiently with some terrific throws by Sanchez.
Once the score was 10-6 NYJ, it all started to fall apart. The Steelers concluded the first half with an 11 play, 5:40 drive ending with a 1 yd TD by tight end Heath Miller from Roethlisberger. The Jets spent the rest of the game being unable to move the ball after the 1st quarter, and the defense was unable to contain Roethlisberger extend plays like he usually does. The Steelers were eight of fifteen on third down. Big Ben finished 24 of 31 for 275 yards and two touchdowns, good for a 93.4 total QBR and 125.1 passer rating the highest against the Jets under head coach Rex Ryan.
All you can do is learn from your mistakes. The loss may be a blessing in disguise as it served as a reality check after the blowout against Buffalo. The Jets will take their talents to South Beach, where their season came to a highly controversial ending last season. The Dolphins are coming off a 35-13 blowout win in a sweltering Sun Life Stadium against Oakland. The key in this game is to contain a red-hot Reggie Bush, who has finally realized his potential in Miami, and force rookie QB Ryan Tannenhill to make mistakes.