Giants, Jets peel off rotten Big Apple label with winning starts

NEW YORK (AP) — All the ego-bruising jokes, caustic cheap shots and embarrassing attitudes about New York soccer are now falling flat.

Want to laugh at the Giants and Jets?


Football in the Big Apple – OK, you too, New Jersey – is no longer rotten. But it sure has been a while.

The Giants are 5-1 after an impressive 24-20 win over Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. The Jets are 4-2 after stunning Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Green Bay 27-10.

Both have won three straight games and both have winning records for the first time since 2015. Cultural changes in both teams’ facilities have come from changes in front offices and coaching staffs, building a core of young players through the draft and injecting a fresh approach to adversity — and success.

“That’s something we’ve preached since day one, since we’ve been here — the coaches, the people in the building — this league is tough,” Giants first-year coach Brian Daboll said. “It won’t always be perfect. There will be many people on you. And maybe you are yourself, you wish you could do better.

“But you keep coming back. You keep swinging, you keep competing, regardless of the score or game situation. And that’s not easy to do, is it?”

No. Just ask any Giants or Jets fan who has suffered a lot of losses over the past few years.

But their frustration suddenly turned into cautious optimism. The usual preoccupations on sports talk radio and social media have given way to daydreaming about playoff possibilities.

It is the first time since 2010 that both teams have won at least four of their first six games. And it is only the sixth time since the merger in 1970.

The promising starts are a surprise to many – especially since the Giants haven’t been to the playoffs since 2016 and the Jets have the longest current drought in the NFL at 11 seasons.

“The Jets are better than we thought,” Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy said Sunday during NBC’s “Football Night in America.” “The young guns are just chasing, fighting, playing well and just getting the job done.”

The same can be said for the Giants, whose 5-1 start under Daboll is their best since 2009.

“They’re just closing the game, waiting for you to make a mistake,” said Dungy’s on-air teammate Chris Simms — whose father, Phil, was part of two Super Bowl-winning Giants teams. “They’re very comfortable in those one-score games late in the fourth quarter.”

The Giants have overcome a deficit of 10 or more points three times, and the victory over Baltimore was the last. They also pulled out wins after trailing 17-3 midway through the second quarter against the Packers in London two weeks ago, and trailing Tennessee 13-0 at halftime to open the season.

Dabol’s team is the fourth team to achieve three such victories in the first six games.

“We’re a team that fights all four quarters, every minute of the game,” defensive lineman Leonard Williams said. “And I think the best thing about this team is that we don’t bend, we don’t fold, we don’t break and all that stuff.”

Still, the Giants are less than 3 points on 2-4 Jacksonville next week, according to FanDuel.

Meanwhile, the Jets are off to their best start since 2015, when they also opened 4-2.

After the Jets lost their season opener to Baltimore, coach Robert Saleh insisted that things will turn around for the franchise.

“We’re all taking stock of all the people who keep scoffing and saying we’re not going to do anything,” Saleh said one game into his second season. “I’m receiving the bills, and I’ll be more than happy to share them with all of you when it’s all said and done.”

It seemed ridiculous at the time. Not anymore.

Even if the Jets, like the Giants, still don’t get much respect from the bettors.

They started as 3-point underdogs, according to FanDuel, in Denver against the 2-4 Broncos next week. None of that matters to the Jets, who in 2001 joined the Cleveland Browns as the only teams in the Super Bowl era to have a winning record despite being underdogs in each of the first six games.

“We’ve got a lot of guys here who don’t care about what’s been said about this organization in the past,” Duane Brown said in his first season with the Jets. “We’re here to write our story – and so far he’s been pretty good.”

During their winning streak, the Jets rallied from a 10-point deficit at Pittsburgh to beat the Steelers in quarterback Zach Wilson’s season debut; turned a close game against Miami into a 21-point fourth-quarter blowout to end a 12-game skid against AFC East opponents; and then dominated the Packers at Lambeau Field.

“We have to start expecting things like this,” Saleh said.

Even if it is still difficult for some outside of team facilities.

Of course, the shots could be back in full force with a few losses. But for now, armchair comedians must find new material.

Laugh all you want, but these giants and jets are no joke.


AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow and AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan contributed.


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