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The Good, Bad and Ugly of New York's Football Weekend

A win and a loss, but two teams feeling better about themselves

By Josh Alper
|  Tuesday, Dec 6, 2011  |  Updated 6:45 AM EDT
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New York Giants 2011-12 Championship Season

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Another exciting week of football is in the books.

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It is tough to argue that the Jets or Giants have fulfilled expectations so far this season.

Both teams would miss the playoffs if the season ended today, which certainly wasn't the goal when things got underway in September and no one will be happy if things remain that way when the season actually does come to an end.

As frustrating as the year has been to this point, you've still gotten a lot of excitement out of the games.

Sunday was just the latest day to feature the Jets and Giants playing games that went down to the wire thanks to fourth quarters with more twists and turns than the average season of 24. Mark Sanchez and Eli Manning have both proven themselves to be aces when backs are against the wall which means that neither team is ever truly out of a game if there's a chance to pull it out in the final moments.

Manning didn't get it done Sunday, but he came close and the way the Giants performed against the Packers was an encouraging sign after three very discouraging weeks. Sanchez did get it done, keeping hope alive that the Jets have one more crazy run left in them.

Those are good things, obviously, and there were more of them on Sunday. There were also bad and ugly things and, without further ado, we present them all to you right now.

GOOD: The Giants needed to show some sign that the fire hadn't totally gone out of them during their three-game losing streak. They accomplished that on Sunday even though they didn't win the game and, thanks to losses by their NFC playoff competition, that means they still control their own destiny.

GOOD: It hasn't been the best season of Santonio Holmes' career, but he made a play when the Jets badly needed one in the fourth quarter against the Redskins. And his double move for a wide-open touchdown reminded everyone of just why the Jets paid him so well to return this season.

BAD: We're 12 weeks into this season and the Jets offense still looks like they are on their first day of practice far too often. The team looks confused when they line up, they pick up procedural penalties by the bucketful and waste timeouts as if they got as many as an NBA team. That kind of sloppiness is as baffling as it is unacceptable for a team with so little margin for error.

UGLY: Give Aaron Rodgers all the credit in the world for taking the Packers back down the field for the win, but this Giants secondary simply can't cover anyone this season. Even the return of the pass rush wasn't enough to help out the defensive backfield. 

GOOD: Who is the bigger breakout star of the Giants this year - Jason Pierre-Paul or Victor Cruz? Cruz's humbler beginnings give him the edge, but Pierre-Paul has been the only constant on this Giants defense this season. Regardless, they are the two best things to happen to the Giants as they continue to produce huge results on a weekly basis.

BAD: What in the world is going on with Tom Coughlin when it comes to replay challenges? There are plenty of calls that we'd like to see go another way in the course of a game, but wishing doesn't make it so. Coughlin and his assistants need to brush up on the rulebook so that they stop costing the team timeouts that they could use late in games.

BAD: The Jets defense played well in the second half, but they were dreadful in the first half as the Redskins built a 13-10 lead. The tackling was abysmal, the pass rush was nonexistent and Eric Smith continued to be the biggest coverage liability in the league.

GOOD: Aaron Maybin's play since the Jets brought him back a second time early this season has been a revelation and his fourth quarter sack/forced fumble of Rex Grossman sealed Sunday's win. The one thing missing from Rex Ryan's defense has been a fearsome pass rusher, they might have found one in Maybin.

UGLY: Another week, another fumble on special teams. Jeremy Kerley's fumbled punt was the seventh of the year in the kicking game and these mistakes are going to make it hard for the Jets to steer their way to the playoffs.

BAD: There's no bigger sign you're a loser than complaining about officiating in the wake of a game, so we'll leave the ticky-tack illegal contact penalty on Jacquian Williams aside for the time being. We'll focus instead on the Greg Jennings touchdown catch that stood up to replay despite the fact that Jennings didn't seem to actually catch the ball. Every week it seems like the NFL moves the bar about just what constitutes a catch, something that should be more grounded in common sense.

GOOD: There are four weeks left and both teams still have a fighting chance to play for something bigger this year. It might not be exactly what anybody wanted, but it could be a lot worse given the circumstances of the first 12 weeks.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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