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You have to love the rivalry between New York and New England. There is a hatred between these two regions that transcends sports. It’s not like there needed to be more hype for the Patriots-Jets game, but now the cards have been thrown on the table.
It started with Rex Ryan sending a recorded message to New York Jets season ticket holders. He reassured fans that on Sunday, “we’re going to see who has a better team.” Next was Jets safety Kerry Rhodes, who might have opened a new can of worms:
“Not just go out there and try to win, try to embarrass them. Try to make them feel bad when they leave here…. We don’t want to just beat them. We’re not backing down from you and we expect to win this game. It’s not going to be luck, it’s not going to be a mistake.”
Them sound like fighting words.
Things have certainly changed since Ryan has taken over as head coach of The Jets. The whole demeanor of New York has become a laid back, positive group. Still, The Pats have won four of the last five, including eight straight in the Meadowlands, against New York. Will Rhodes be eating his words come Sunday?
Last week, the Jets moved the ball well against the Houston Texans. Running backs Thomas Jones and Leon Washington combined for 167 yards on 35 carries. Rookie Mark Sanchez threw for 272 yards and a touchdown as New York rolled past Houston 24-7.
For New England, they didn’t seem like a team until the final two minutes. They struggled against the Buffalo Bills and needed a miraculous fumble in the waning minutes to steal a 25-24 victory. Tom Brady threw for 378 yards, including 141 to Randy Moss, but didn’t seem like himself until late in the fourth.
The Jets will bring a tough defense to the game to combat the potent offense of New England. However, will it be enough to “embarrass” New England? Kerry Rhodes promised to get to Brady at least six times. Doesn’t Rhodes realize that the person you don’t call out is Tom Brady?
The Patriots defense did not look as fierce as in seasons past. They will have a hard time controlling the Jets running game and although you shouldn’t expect Mark Sanchez to dominate, he could put up good numbers if the Pats rush can’t break through. The offensive line for New England will have to step up their play and protect Brady and if they do their job, it could spell disaster for New York.
Wes Welker and Randy Moss will have monster games, if the opportunity arises. The Patriots will not have the Ryan and Rhodes remarks on their bulletin board, instead it will be in the back of their minds. Expect to see the Brady of old and have him regain his MVP swagger.
Way back in 2007, Anthony Smith of the Pittsburgh Steelers called out the Patriots and guaranteed a victory against New England. The result? A 34-13 domination from New England where Brady threw for 399 yards and four touchdowns. To cap it off, after Brady’s final touchdown, he ran to the end zone, found Smith and said, “That’s how I call you out, on the field!” Do not think for one second that Brady isn’t dreaming of doing the same thing to the Jets secondary.
History buffs can remember Japanese General Isoroku Yamamoto who, after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, reportedly said “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” Rhodes words may have done the same.