(TSX / STATS) — EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg engineered four second-half touchdown drives to help the New York Jets overcome a 29-3 first-half deficit, but fell one point short in the New York Giants’ 32-31 victory in the annual MetLife Bowl.
The first half saw the Giants defense take over the game. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul got things started for the Giants with his tackle of Jets running back Matt Forte in the end zone for the safety.
After kicker Aldrick Rosas hit a 24-yard field goal to increase the Giants’ lead to 5-0, safety Landon Collins jumped a route on a Hackenberg pass intended for tight end Eric Tomlinson, the safety returning the ball 23 yards for a touchdown and a 12-0 lead.
The Giants offense, which had not scored a touchdown in eight quarters of preseason play, finally snapped that streak later in the first quarter when running back Orleans Darkwa benefitted from the blocking of left tackle Ereck Flowers, fullback Shane Smith and tight end Evan Engram on a 1-yard rush into the end zone.
The Jets finally got on the board in the second quarter on a 27-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro. But the Giants just kept piling it on, adding a 50-yard field goal by Mike Nugent.
That was followed by the Giants defense producing their third score of the night, an interception returned for a touchdown by cornerback Donte Deayon, who caught the ball after receiver Robby Anderson coughed it up when drilled by Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
Hackenberg, who is trying to win the Jets’ starting quarterback job, struggled. He finished completing 12 of 21 pass attempts for 126 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He was also sacked three times and had one rush for 13 yards.
With the Giants taking their lead into the second half, the Jets offense started to come to life under Petty, who finished the evening 15 of 18 for 250 yards and three touchdowns before being knocked out late in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.
Petty led the Jets to three third-quarter touchdowns, two to receiver ArDarius Stewart on a 25-yard post and a 15-yard score, and one on an 85-yard touchdown reception by running back Bilal Powell that cut the Giants’ lead to 29-18 going into the fourth quarter.
Hackenberg brought the Jets within two points of a victory when he connected with receiver Frankie Hammond on a 17-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt came up short.
The Giants capped their scoring with a 54-yard field goal converted by Nugent, a former Jets kicker.
This was the first time the Giants scored 30 or more points since Jan. 3, 2016, a 35-30 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2015 regular-season finale.
The Jets responded with Petty’s third touchdown pass, a 15-yarder to Stewart to make it 32-25.
Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams left the game in the second quarter with a wrist injury, the only announced injury by the team.
The Giants’ injury situation was worse. Starting defensive tackle Jay Bromley suffered a left knee sprain. Starting cornerback Eli Apple, who dealt with an ankle injury earlier this summer, left the game after the second quarter after aggravating the injury.
Running back Shaun Draughn, who started the third quarter for the Giants, suffered a concussion and a neck injury.
Safety Duke Ihenacho was ruled out with a knee injury suffered while trying to chase down Powell on his touchdown reception and run.
Backup offensive lineman Adam Gettis was ruled out in the fourth quarter with a foot injury. And rookie defensive end Evan Schwan appeared to suffer a lower left leg injury with 1:52 left in the fourth quarter.
The Jets will close out the preseason Thursday night in Philadelphia against the Eagles. The Giants will visit New England on Thursday to complete their preseason schedule.