Though both the Washington Football Team and New York Giants have been eliminated from playoff contention, their Week 18 battle at MetLife Stadium is shaping up to be far from a meaningless contest.
Earlier this week, Giants head coach Joe Judge took a not-so-subtle jab at Washington by saying of his own squad: “This ain’t a team that’s having fistfights on the sidelines. This ain’t some clown show organization or something else, okay?”
Given the Jonathan Allen-Daron Payne scuffle that occurred on the sidelines in Dallas two weeks ago, it'd be fair to wonder if Judge's comments were directed at Washington.
This week, Washington head coach Ron Rivera took note of Judge’s comments leading up to the NFC East battle on Sunday, essentially dismissing them.
“Well, it's interesting. It is,” Rivera said Wednesday. “And again, I'm not going respond to something that's interesting, but what's important is we play on Sunday. I got a tremendous amount of respect for the Giants organization. The Mara’s and the Tisch’s are quality people and do a great job with their organization. As far as I'm concerned, we play on Sunday.”
While Washington's sideline fight has been at the center of this particular storyline, Judge's Giants don't have much to feel great about themselves. They're last in the NFC East with a 4-12 record, own the worst record in the league over the last five years, and it could be argued they have the darkest future of any team in the league right now.
When asked if his original comments were in fact a dig at Washington, Judge backtracked.
“No. I just made a comment toward any outward dysfunction – my focus is on getting our team ready right now for Washington,” he said Wednesday. “You can make a lot of a lot of comments I’ve said in the past. Right now, I’m focused on getting the team ready for Washington this weekend.”
Judge was then asked if he has talked to Giants’ ownership about his ‘fistfights’ comment.
“I talk to ownership a good bit all the time. In terms of anything I’ve said, no.”
The stage is set for Washington-New York on Sunday. No, neither team will make the postseason. But at this point it’s a matter of pride and making your opponent put their money where their mouth is. If there ends up being a fistfight, chances are it won’t be contained to just one sideline.