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Sanchez throws for TD, Jets make 2 big special teams plays to beat Giants for bragging rights
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) ' Rex Ryan came into this season believing the New York Jets can win a trophy.
He settled for the big bronzed Snoopy on Monday night after beating the Giants 17-3 for the New York metropolitan area preseason bragging rights.
However the one he really wants is called Lombardi, and he knows the Jets need to improve between now and February to pick it up.
"We have a long way to go," said wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who caught a game-winning 17-yard touchdown pass from Mark Sanchez late in the first half.
Ryan isn't going to push his starters with the season less than two weeks away.
The Jets (2-1) will play their reserves in the preseason finale here against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night, the same night the Giants (1-2) wrap up their preseason in New England.
"You are going on two days' rest after they played a half, so I think that is probably the smartest thing to do," Ryan said on a night that neither team excelled.
The one thing Ryan did enjoy was his Snoopy trophy after the game in which his defense picked off two Eli Manning passes and his special teams made two big plays.
"That's awesome," he said, holding up the trophy after the game at MetLife Stadium. "...I'll tell you what, that thing looks good. I'm glad we got it."
The trophy is going to go on Ryan's desk. The videotape of the game that was delayed two days by Hurricane Irene's march up the East Coast doesn't deserve such a prominent spot.
There wasn't much that either Ryan or Giants counterpart Tom Coughlin could be happy about.
The first-team offenses weren't good. The chippy game featured 16 penalties and the ejections of Giants halfback Brandon Jacobs and Jets defensive end Muhummad Wilkerson for a second-half skirmish.
And there were just too many mistakes by both teams with the regular season starting on Sept. 11.
Even Plaxico Burress' first game against the Giants since his release from prison was a dud. No catches and a bad call on the pregame coin toss as the Jets' sole captain.
The positive was both teams played hard. The Jets prevailed because Sanchez made one big pass, the defense and special teams made big plays and the second-team defense made a goal-line stand early in the second half.
"I don't know if there are any tickets available for that Dec. 24 game, but I think we just sold them because that was a typical Jets-Giants slugfest right there," Ryan said.
"It was a fun game, man. That was two good football teams going at it. Obviously, it's a preseason game, but it's great competition. The fireworks will fly Dec. 24, that's for sure."
Rookie Bilal Powell had a 1-yard TD run in the fourth quarter and Nick Folk added a late field goal for the Jets, who have lost the AFC title game the past two seasons.
Rhys Lloyd kicked a field goal for the banged-up Giants, who had defensive end Justin Tuck (stinger) and linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka (groin) leave the game with injuries. Neither seemed serious.
"There are things that we need to clean up, but we still have some time to do so," said Manning, who was 15 of 30 for 200 yards. "There are just some little things, but those things can add up. But that's what the preseason is for, and we still have a little time."
The Jets didn't appear to have any major injuries in the exhibition.
Jets special teams guru Mike Westhoff saw his unit provide the key plays.
Antonio Cromartie set up Holmes' touchdown with a 70-yard kickoff return, and defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert blocked Lloyd's field-goal attempt late in the third quarter with the Jets ahead 7-3.
Lloyd had given the Giants a 3-0 lead with 5:00 left in the first half with a 34-yarder.
Cromartie's big return came on the ensuing kickoff. The Giants seemed to fall asleep after Cromartie fumbled the ball in the end zone and Lloyd eventually ran him out of bounds at the 35.
Sanchez needed only six plays to cover the distance, finding Holmes on a post pattern.
"In a rivalry game like this, we have to keep our cool and be sharp, but I was proud of the guys for playing through everything, staying strong and staying poised," said Sanchez, who finished 8 of 16 for 64 yards.
The only thing the longtime rivals showed in the first half is their defenses are ready for the regular season.
"On the eye test, I thought we played pretty well," Tuck said. "There are some things to work on, but I feel we're ready. We're getting more comfortable with our schemes and we'll be flying around there, when it's time."
The Giants outgained the Jets 224-73 in the half and trailed 7-3 because Manning could not capitalize after moving the offense to the Jets 27 on the opening drive.
On a second and 10 from the 27, David Harris pressured Manning and his pass to Victor Cruz was too high and intercepted by Jim Leonhard.
Harris got the other interception in the second quarter when Manning badly underthrew Ahmad Bradshaw while under pressure again.
"First one, the ball floated on me a little bit," Manning said. "And the next one, that was on me. I should have just thrown it away."
Manning and the offense jumped to a 3-0 lead, taking advantage when linebacker Clint Sintim recovered Sanchez's fumble at the Giants 39.
Bradshaw made the big play, taking a dump-off pass and turning it into a 29-yard gain after running past linebacker Bart Scott.
The Giants had a chance to retake the lead early in the third quarter against the Jets' second-string defense when Manning drove them from their own 15 to the Jets 1.
However, the Jets stopped D.J. Ware cold on a fourth-down attempt from the 1, on a play that normally would have been handled by Jacobs.
The big-bruising back was not available because he has been ejected four plays earlier for trading what appeared to be slaps with Wilkerson.
Gilbert blocked Lloyd's 42-yard attempt with 1:13 left in the third quarter and rookies Greg McElroy and Jeremy Kerley' playing the wildcat' led the Jets' 68-yard, nine-play drive that featured an unsportsmanlike penalty on Giants safety Deon Grant.