The New York Giants opened the 2023 season with visions of competing for a division title. And the New York Jets had even loftier goals. But everything came crashing down in Week 1. Fate reared its ugly head and was not too kind to either team.
The Giants (0-1) were embarrassed by the Dallas Cowboys in front of a national TV audience. Micah Parsons and the rest of a dominant Cowboys' defense blanked the G-Men at MetLife Stadium.
Dallas continued its mastery over New York with its fifth consecutive win and 12th victory in the last 13 meetings.
Daniel Jones and the Giants offensive unit started the game with an impressive run-heavy drive that reached the Dallas 8-yard line. But a false start, a bad shotgun snap, and a blocked field goal that resulted in a 58-yard touchdown return opened the floodgates to a good old ass-kicking.
"We got skunked here 40-0," Giants coach Brian Daboll said. "When you play a game like that, coach a game like that, there's nothing that's good enough. (But) It's one game. It wasn't a good game. I won't sugarcoat it. We've got a lot to learn from, a lot to work on."
That's putting it mildly. The Cowboys manhandled New York in every phase of the game. The Giants looked like an expansion team as they suffered the third-worst shutout loss in franchise history.
"It's embarrassing, but it's over with now," safety Xavier McKinney said. "We got a long way to go. It's that simple. This was a wake-up call for us. It's definitely humbling, but we'll figure it out. We'll be a lot better next week. We won't look like this next week."
Jones failed to live up to the hype of his $40 million annual salary behind a pitiful offensive line that allowed seven sacks (excluding a pair that were negated by yellow flags). The five-year veteran threw for a paltry 104 yards and two interceptions but was under constant pressure and was hit 12 times.
"This wasn't our best game, there's no doubt about it. This wasn't who we were capable of being. We've got to show that. We've got to put that on the field and play that way. We didn't do that tonight, and we have a lot to work on going forward."
The Giants seemed deflated in the second half, and the effort from more than a few players was questioned after the game. However, Daboll insisted that his players did not lose because of a lack of effort.
"Those guys are competitors," he said. "Obviously, the result didn't show that tonight, but that's not us. That's not us, just to insinuate that, that someone's not giving effort. Everybody gives balls-out effort. We just didn't do a good enough job executing, but I don't question that. Not ever."
The Jets (1-0) actually won their season opener Monday night at a sold out MetLife Stadium. Defying the NFL betting odds, they pulled off a stunning upset victory over their AFC East rival Buffalo Bills.
Aaron Rodgers left the game after just four plays with an Achilles injury.
"MRI is probably going to confirm what we think is already gonna happen, so prayers tonight," Jets head coach Robert Saleh told reporters after the game. "But it's not good."
Saleh also said that backup quarterback Zach Wilson would be the starter for the rest of the season, indicating the Jets do not believe Rodgers will return this season.
"I hurt for Aaron and how much he has invested in all of this," Saleh said. "I'm still going to say a prayer and still going to hold out hope."
Wilson, the league's second overall pick two years ago, completed 14 of 21 passes for 140 yards with one touchdown and an interception. He managed the game while the Bills All-Pro quarterback Josh Allen turned the ball over four times.
"I have so much love for him, so my heart goes out to him," Wilson said of Rodgers. "I know he'll find a way to keep working to get back. But it's tough. It hurts us as a team. But my job as a quarterback is I gotta step up, and I gotta be able to be as efficient as I can in that offense."
New York overcame the loss of Rodgers in an improbable nail-biter to upset the Bills. The Jets' stout defense limited Buffalo to just a field goal in the second half, and a highlight reel touchdown catch by Garrett Wilson with less than five minutes left in the game set the stage for the dramatic overtime win.
Undrafted rookie receiver Xavier Gipson delivered a walk-off 65-yard punt return for a touchdown to seal the season-opening victory and send the sellout crowd into a state of frenzy.
"I'm going to speak for our entire locker room and say we knew he was going to get one today," Saleh said. "We just had a feeling. That kid is electric with the ball in his hands. If I'm a team, I'm not kicking it to him. None of us in the locker room are surprised he took one back."
Jets safety Jordan Whitehead paced a suffocating defensive unit with a career-high three interceptions that thwarted the Bills high-powered offense.
"Something like this, you got to talk about it, you got to talk about it during the week, believe that you're going to do it," said Whitehead. "That's where it comes from."
The Giants and Jets will return to work Sunday with road games in Arizona and Dallas, respectively. However, their season outlooks appear much different than just a week ago.