The smoke has cleared, the scores have been settled and the Giants are the team left dancing in the middle of the ring.
It was a well earned victory, thanks in large part to a surprising return to effectiveness from the Giants defense. The reappearance of their swagger likely had a lot to do with the Jets offense's inability to put one foot in front of the other, but there was no denying that the Giants showed a few teeth that hadn't been kicked out of their mouth by the events of the previous six games.
That didn't stop this from being an ugly game, though. We're not just talking about the string of punts that dominated most of the proceedings before things got wild and woolly in the final 15 minutes, either.
We're talking about the entire week leading up to the game, where trash talking made both sides look like they were trying to sell a wrestling pay-per-view instead of a football game. Rex Ryan led things, to be sure, but the Giants were willing to dive into the muck for a team that tries to claim that they are above such things.
All of the pettiness -- the Jets covering up Super Bowl logos, the Giants ripping down curtains, moaning about whose stadium it is (Neither team was willing to pay for their own house, so you share it and you will always share it which means it is no one's stadium, regardless of which team had their name on the stadium before), Twitter taunts by team spokesmen -- made both teams look childish and unprofessional. And then came the Ryan-Brandon Jacobs run-in heard round the world.
Reports differ on who started it, but it doesn't really matter when both "men" come off looking so pathetic in the final reckoning. Ryan earned a verbal slab, but how can Jacobs, the king of writing checks he can't cash, seriously propose that he's somehow on higher ground in that particular arena?
Yes, we got a nice Post cover and some laughs out of the whole thing but it would be much better if this could signal the end of the ridiculous amounts of chatter that accompany everything that goes on with both football teams. The NFL won't punish anyone, which is baffling because Jacobs and Ryan made the league look much worse than most of the other things that bring out the wrath of Roger Goodell.
That Post cover is the lingering image of the game, not anything that happened on the field. That's a shame because, as you'll read below, there was plenty worth discussing.
GOOD: We mentioned it up top, but the Giants defense and defensive game plan are worthy of some more pats on the back. They were determined to rush the passer and, with the help of players other than Jason Pierre-Paul for the first time in weeks, they got it done. They were willing to let Mark Sanchez beat them, which turned out to be a masterstroke, because...
BAD: The Jets seemed to be under the illusion that Sanchez could actually beat the Giants all by himself. Brian Schottenheimer's decision to have Sanchez throw the ball 59 times, most of them short checkdowns, instead of sticking with a running game that was working is the kind of decision that gets someone fired.
UGLY: Bad game plan or not, Sanchez deserves a lot of the blame. His decision making is awful, his awareness of situations is almost non-existent and it is clear that confidence is a problem for him and for the entire offense. Things can't go on like this much longer.
GOOD: The only real bright spot of the day for the Jets was Darrelle Revis. The Giants tested him often and got absolutely nothing to show for it other than an interception that would have lost them the game against a halfway decent offense. He didn't get much help from his friends, but Revis Island remains a special place.
BAD: Revis made a nice play, but what in the world were the Giants thinking when they threw the ball after the Jets fumbled the ball in the end zone in the fourth quarter? They deserved the interception for being so stupid, although it was sporting of Kevin Gilbride to come up with a way to remind the world that there are awful offensive coordinators not named Schottenheimer.
GOOD: Without Victor Cruz's 99-yard touchdown, this game would have been bleaker than a Soviet bread line so thank goodness that Cruz came up with one more big play in this season overstuffed with them. He was one of the guys contributing to the ugly atmosphere, but at least he backed up his big talk.
BAD: That's more than you can say for the Jets receivers. Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress were non-factors against a secondary they were more than willing to criticize during the week.
GOOD: It's been a while, so we might have been mistaken but it certainly looked like the Giants were running the ball well in the second half. Could have been an illusion, but, if so, it was an enjoyable one.
UGLY: The Cruz touchdown and Ahmad Bradshaw's touchdown both featured some of the ugliest tackling you will ever see. The Jets defense continually comes up with ways to remind us that it doesn't matter how good you are 99 percent of the time if you blow the game on two plays.
GOOD: We started with the deplorable behavior of both teams, so we'll end with a word of thanks to Tom Coughlin for actually being a big enough man to practice what he preaches. He said all week that talk was cheap and, unlike his players and owner, he stuck to that when the game was over. His pride in what his team accomplished was obvious, he didn't need to engage in theatrics and he even did it all despite getting bowled over on the sideline.