One if by Land, Two by Air
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – The war has resumed. The on-going rivalry between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets has reached it’s boiling point. After two regular season games that played more like battles than sports, the final stand-off between the two will undoubtedly be the biggest to date.
Rex Ryan has already gotten the sports world abuzz, pinning the game as a match-up of coaches. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick fired back with a playful response of his own, while ordering his players to not play the Jets media games.
“I don’t think you’ll see either of us out there making any blocks, or tackles, or runs, throws or catches. At least you won’t see me doing that. It’s probably a good thing for our team,” Belichick said.
As the two generals prepare their team for battle in New England on Sunday, somewhere Fireman Ed is assembling a band of Gang Green faithful to cross the Mason Dixon line that is Route 84 in Connecticut to enemy borders.
The Green Coats are coming! The Green Coats are coming! The Green Coats are coming!
Okay, maybe “green coat” doesn’t have that good of a ring to it, but the Jets (as well as their fans) are preparing themselves for yet another match-up of epic proportions with the arch-rivaled Patriots.
Unlike our fore-fathers, the Battle of Foxborough will be nationally televised and highly-anticipated. In their previous two battles, both defended their home ground with a vicious sense of pride.
4:15 PM EST, September 19, 2010- The late afternoon sun shined bright through the clouds in East Rutherford, N.J. It couldn’t have been a better day for an upset. The Jets, dressed in their home whites, were awaiting the arrival of the Patriots and the beginning of a Battle for New Jersey.
The Patriots entered the Meadowlands a confident, battle-tested group, who were looking to continue their dominance over their New York rival. The Jets, were an upstart group coming off a disappointing start and hungry for a victory under a coach who kept his troops motivated.
New England struck first, their field general Tom Brady leading the way per usual. But the second-year starter, Mark Sanchez, would have the answer with a score of his own. As the battle would unfold, the Patriots had some spectacular moves (ala Randy Moss’ catch of catches on Darrelle Revis), but not enough to leave victorious. The Jets dismantled what would become the best team in the league, forcing their leader to turn the ball over three times and score 31 points on their defense.
For Sanchez, it marked a pivotal victory over a foe that bullied New York in recent years. It proved to his teammates that, when all the pieces fall together, he can be an excellent quarterback and leader.
For Ryan, it was just another instance of not kissing Belichick’s rings. It was another notch on his bravado belt and it nailed one more nail into the naysayer’s coffin.
As a team, the Jets showed that they can live up to their label of a Super Bowl caliber team. After an off-season of talking, they finally got their walk on. Hindsight would later show that this would be one of the few days this team put together a “60-minute game”.
8:30 PM EST, December 6, 2010- This time around there was no sun and certainly no love lost between these two teams. In what was dubbed the “Game of the Year”, the 9-2 Jets traveled up north to visit the 9-2 Patriots in what later would be referred to as The Massacre in Massachusetts.
No longer an upstart team, Ryan and his Jets came to Foxborough with their chests puffed out ready to stake their claim on the Patriots’ home turf. The Patriots, however, had other ideas. Brady exacted his revenge, as did the defense in a 45-3 route.
For the Jets, the pain came early, fast and often. Perhaps the biggest pain was seeing Danny Woodhead play the role of Benedict Arnold, as he torched his former team for over 100 yards receiving.
With the victory, the Patriots also won the inside track to the top seed in the playoffs. With the loss, the Jets traveled back to East Rutherford with questions to be answered.
Are we battle-tested? Can we perform in the big game? Will we be able to beat New England on the road?
After a decisive victory over Peyton Manning and his Indianapolis Colts in their Wildcard match-up, the Jets have answered two of those questions. The final question will be answered on Sunday. Until then we all will be awaiting the Battle of Foxborough to commence.