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We were awfully close to one of the worst football Sundays in recent memory.
The Giants were terrible in Washington and the Cowboys spent three quarters pushing the Jets around the Meadowlands like they were a junior varsity club, setting the table for the kind of start to a season that would have you checking to see when the NHL got underway. Tony Romo intervened and helped save the day for the Jets, but there was still more to dislike than embrace about the return of football to our lives.
GOOD: The Jets won and that's not something you can ever look at with too much scorn. The ball bounced their way once again and the team has to feel at this point that as long as they keep fighting, a chance to win is going to come their way.
BAD: Antonio Cromartie made it pretty obvious why the Jets were in the hunt for Nnamdi Asomugha as a free agent this summer. Cromartie couldn't handle Miles Austin or Dez Bryant, which makes you wonder how the Jets defense is going to be better than the one that couldn't close the deal against the Steelers.
UGLY: Just about everything having to do with the Giants on Sunday was ugly, but nothing was uglier than the special teams. It's been a disgraceful part of a team good enough in the other phases to get away with it for years, but this year's team isn't and it showed on Sunday.
GOOD: Chris Canty's response to the Giants loss -- "We know what 9/11 means to us, what it means to our fans, what it means to our city, what it means to this country. We represent the red, white and blue. And to go out there put that kind of performance out there is unacceptable to us. It’s unacceptable in every regard." -- was a tad overwrought, but there's no better word to use than unacceptable to describe the Giants on Sunday. The Giants have made a habit of underselling problems with the organization, so good for Canty for telling the truth.
BAD: You don't often see the Jets defense get completely outworked, but you saw it on Sunday night. They still made enough plays, with an oversized assist from Romo, but everyone is watching the tape of what the Cowboys did last night.
UGLY: Wayne Hunter should hope there are better days ahead because if he doesn't improve he'll go down as the worst tackle in the league. He was totally lacking in both the run and pass game.
GOOD: Plaxico Burress took a while to get going, but it was worth the wait. His touchdown catch was a one-play encapsulation of why the Jets brought him to town and the mouth waters at what might follow.
BAD: Eli Manning wasn't awful, but "not awful" isn't going to work for him this season. He clearly missed Steve Smith and didn't get much help from the offensive line, but excuses ring hollow for a quarterback at his level.
UGLY: Brian Schottenheimer really needs to change his act. The Jets offensive coordinator sees his team thrive when they play an uptempo, no-huddle style and then changes back to the stuff that isn't working as if he's betting on the other team.
GOOD: There will never be enough praise heaped onto Mike Westhoff, the Jets special teams coach who always comes up with a big play. Giants fans must be green with envy after seeing the blocked punt that changed the game at the Meadowlands on Sunday night.
BAD: Antrel Rolle might be more overpaid than Cromartie based on his effort on Sunday. He consistently gave Redskins receivers huge cushions and then set up their final touchdown by spearing a receiver already on the ground. Maybe he's just not having any fun?
UGLY: The Giants offense wasn't clicking, which makes it mind boggling that they abandoned the run so willingly on Sunday afternoon. This isn't a defense that can bail you out as in past years, a memo that never reached Kevin Gilbride's desk.
GOOD, BAD and UGLY: There were moments on Sunday night where it felt like Mark Sanchez was having the best game of his career. There were also moments where you cringed every time he dropped back to throw because of the hideous things that happened when he put the ball in the air.
In the end, Sanchez won the game and that counts for quite a bit. There are going to be nights when his turnovers and mistakes force him into the Romo role, though, so it would be swell to see them happen a bit less often as the season progresses.