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Outside of the fact that they both lost to divisional rivals, there weren't many obvious similarities between the Giants' blowout loss in Philadelphia and the Jets beating themselves at the Meadowlands. A deeper look, though, shows that both teams are suffering from the same delusions as they stumble their way toward a season that ends without a trip to the playoffs. The easiest bow to put on those delusions is arrogance.
We'll start with the Jets, since they've been guilty of it from the moment that Rex Ryan got the head coaching job. We predicted on Sunday afternoon that the Jets would go the Patrick Ewing route in responding to their loss to the Dolphins and claim that they were a better team regardless of the final score. It may be time to fit Ryan for a fade haircut and a number 33 jersey.
"We totally outplayed them, but got beat," Ryan said. "Amazing. Sometimes things just don't make sense."
But they do make sense. Totally outplaying teams doesn't include allowing them to beat you twice on kickoff returns, it doesn't include penalties on two-point conversions, it doesn't include blowing the chance to challenge fumbles by the opposition and, quite simply, it doesn't include losing.
No one expects Ryan to come in and say how awful his team is, but this is the second loss in three weeks that featured the Jets shooting themselves in the foot over and over again. Those things matter as much as the fact that the Jets played very well on offense and defense for large portions of Sunday's game. The Jets might be capable of beating everyone they play, but until they show it they should stop telling everybody about it.
The Giants are a much harder case to understand. Tom Coughlin's tenure has been awfully short on big talk with players like Tiki Barber, Jeremy Shockey and, infamously, Plaxico Burress cast aside largely because of the way their personalities got in the way of doing business. More than that, Coughlin was a master of figuring out what needed to be changed on his team to make them more successful especially in the Super Bowl season.
Now, though, you've got Steve Smith mocking the Eagles secondary all week even though he's coming off his two worst games of the season and a team that did nothing to alter its approach after two bad losses before Sunday's debacle. The message that sends is that you don't believe in actual facts and results, but only in the fantasy world of your own mind. Justin Tuck admitted as much following the Eagles loss.
"We keep talking about 'Well, that team ain't better than us. We just didn't play good,'" said Tuck. "After three weeks in a row, something is not clicking the way it needs to be. We've got to look ourselves in the mirror and get this ship right. Now."
Tuck's attitude is the right one, at least, and it would be nice to see the same kind of accountability coming from the Jets camp. It's going to take more than talk to change the fortunes of either New York football team, however. They need to fix what's wrong with their play and coaching so that they can salvage something in the second half of their seasons.
And, more than anything else, they need to stop defining the better team by anything other than the final score.