FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – The Jets have been here before. Take a short look back to Week 13, where the Jets, 9-2, were ready to supplant the New England Patriots as the AFC East’s dominant team. They featured a top-10 offense with a budding star at quarterback and a top-5 defense that has a tough-guy reputation.
However there is no need to reiterate the display the Jets put on in that 45-3 loss, as everyone in the Jets locker room will tell you they were the worse team that day.
But here we are, Week 19—the divisional round in the playoffs, and the Jets are yet again traveling up to Foxborough, Massachusetts to complete the Jets-Patriots trilogy. The Jets are winners in three of their last four games, including victories at Pittsburgh and at Indianapolis. Experts may say the Jets have hit their stride at the perfect time.
The running game seems to have been rejuvenated, while a re-focused Mark Sanchez vowed to cut back on his miscues. The defense is fresh off a dominating performance over a Peyton Manning offense, something that rarely happens for a Rex Ryan defense. In fact, Ryan was so pleased with his teams’ performance against the Colts that he couldn’t stop glowing, particularly the play of his star defensive player.
“Quite honestly, he’s the best player in football. The play of Darrelle Revis [was great]. That is what you saw out there. Holding Reggie Wayne, who led the league in catches, to one catch for one yard. That tells you how good [Revis] is. We were able to do some coverages during the game where we actually played man-coverage strictly on his side regardless of who the receiver was and roll their coverage away from it,” Ryan said.
When healthy, Revis is certainly among the game’s top defenders, if not at the top. He has clearly made it a point to shut down the team’s opposing top receiving threat week-in and week-out. After Wayne’s 111-catch season (second only to Roddy White’s 116 receptions), Revis held the former Miami standout to one catch for one yard.
“The [game] this week will be the same deal because when people see [Revis] over there, they don’t even throw to him. They realize that that guy isn’t open. I don’t care who the receiver is, he is not going to be open. We know that and we’ll try to take advantage of it again this week,” Ryan continued.
However, in facing a Moss-less Patriots team, one will be hard-pressed to say who is the Patriots clear-cut number one receiver. The truth is, with this Patriot team, the open man is Brady’s number one receiver. On one drive it may be Wes Welker or Deion Branch and on the next drive it may be Danny Woodhead or Rob Gronkowski. Revis may very well shut down Branch of Welker for four quarters, but against a team that has so many threats on the field, it will be up to Revis’ teammates to stop Brady and the Patriots.
That means Revis’ counter-part, Antonio Cromartie, will have to back up his rather choice words when referring to this week’s opponent. “[He’s an] ass****. F*** him. That’s what I think about him. I don’t really give a damn about him. If I beat the s*** out of his receivers, he can’t throw the ball,” Cromartie told reporters yesterday. While the Jets have been anything but shy about jarring the Patriots through the media, they should do so with caution.
Look back to the December 6, 2007 match-up between the Patriots, then 12-0 on their way to the number one seed if the AFC, and the Steelers, 9-3, boasted one of the league’s top scoring defenses. Second year player Anthony Smith said this: “We’re going to win. Yeah I can guarantee a win. As long as we come out and do what we got to do. Both sides of the ball are rolling, and if our special teams come through for us, we’ve got a good chance to win.”
The Steelers lost that game, 31-13. And Brady attacked the jabbering Smith on two different touchdown plays. Three years later, no one has even heard of Anthony Smith.
Before the 2005 Super Bowl, Philadelphia Eagles big-mouthed receiver Freddie “Fred-Ex” Mitchell said he didn’t even know the players on the Patriots names. After a 24-21 loss, Mitchell didn’t even record a catch in the game. Five years later, people barely remember Freddie Mitchell.
While Cromartie is far more talented than either Smith or Mitchell, he must remain wary of getting picked on by Brady. In their Week 13 meeting, Cromartie was torched by Deion Branch for a 25-yard touchdown, on third down no less. And Wayne may have been shut down by Revis, but Pierre Garcon, covered by Cromartie, gained over 100 yards and scored a touchdown as well.
The Patriots don’t strike back through the media, the make notes of what is said, and take their shots on the field. The Jets have put together a great season in spite being laced with trash-talk. Let’s hope for their sake, their season isn’t derailed because of the trash talk.
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