The Jets prepared all week just like they would for a home game. They stayed at the same hotel, their buses took the same route to the Meadowlands and they dressed in their locker room.
But the walk onto the field this afternoon promises to be unusual.
"It's a very different walk through the tunnel when you're playing the Giants and they're the home team than when you're the home team and walk through the tunnel," said Jets head coach Eric Mangini. "They're a little less friendly than our group. I definitely appreciate the passion of New York fans. That makes the game that much more exciting to play."
Giants Stadium will be filled with Big Blue loyalists. There will be a bunch of green and white jerseys scattered throughout the stands, but this is a road game, and an important one at that.
"They have their own things to handle and we have our own things to handle. We are 1-3 and trying to get a win," said S Kerry Rhodes. "It doesn't matter who we play. It is not a division game, but it is a big game for us. It is another game we have to win. We need to come out and play hard."
"You treat it like another game. It's going to be a tough battle," added Giants QB Eli Manning. "They are a good team. We played them in preseason, we know what they are like from a physical standpoint, so we have to go out there and play top-quality football if we expect to win."
Rivals by location but not by division or even conference, the two New York football teams don't play much in the regular season. Today's contest is the 11th time in regular-season play whereas they have met 39 times in the preseason. The Jets topped the Giants, 20-12, back in August.
"It's an intense game even though it's a preseason game," said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. "People get after it. it is an important game — and naturally we are both New York teams, so that is important as well. It's an important game for both teams. We are moving forward."
The teams know each other well. Players see either other at various functions throughout the year and bragging rights are always nice to have.
"You go out and see those guys a lot, so you want to know that you beat those guys," said Jets WR Jerricho Cotchery, who leads the team with 382 yards receiving. "You won't brag about it, but the chest will stick out a little bit more. There are so many games in the NFL that you can't just focus on one and say that is your rival."
Mangini and Coughlin have a genuine liking for each other. The Jets second-year head coach sat next to the Giants' boss at Romeo Crennel's daughter's wedding. Mangini swears that the outwardly dry Coughlin is funny guy.
"I like his approach and his attention to detail," Mangini said. "You know, maybe we'll be doing some things at the Improv, I don't know ... Coughlin–Mangini, one night only? Can we get that on pay-per-view? I think it's going to be big. You heard it here first."
Well, that will have to wait for now. The Jets have an away game to attend to at their home.
"It was real strange in the preseason. We got a taste of it and it was weird to see all of the blue because when we come in it is usually green," Rhodes said. "It is what it is. It's a road game for us at Jets Stadium."