(Long Island, N.Y.) Rex Ryan was boastful at the start of the season. Nothing out of the ordinary for the brash head coach of the New York Jets, but this was even a little strong for him. With the victory over New England in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs last year, Ryan was confident in his team’s ability to continue that into the present campaign.
He made a public plea for someone else other than the Jets to beat the Patriots, opening the door for his team to win the AFC East and receive a home playoff game in the process. There was one small problem, though.
The Jets haven’t held up their end of the bargain.
Sure, the Pats have been defeated so far this season by the likes of the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, but they have dominated the Jets in their two head-to-head meetings in 2011.
On the road earlier in the season is one thing, but getting trounced in front of your own fans on national television with first place on the line is another. The Jets were swept by the Patriots for the first time since 2007 and are once again looking up at their rivals in the standings following the 37-16 loss at MetLife Stadium.
When asked if the division was still attainable, Rex Ryan answered honestly. “I don’t think so right now,” the head coach said. “They beat us twice. We think we’re as good as they are, but clearly, we’re not. We weren’t today, that’s for sure.”
Mark Sanchez also realizes the opportunity that wasn’t taken advantage of and knows that the team cannot lament on it for too long. “Any time you don’t play your best, it’s frustrating and all you want to do is play again,” the Jets signal caller said. “So if there was any time to get rid of a loss quickly, this is the time.”
Sanchez and his teammates will have the opportunity in just a few days, as the schedule maker wasn’t kind to the Jets in a Thursday night follow-up in Denver after a Sunday night game. “We have to get ready to go down there,” Ryan added. “With the way Denver’s playing, we know it’s going to be a tough game. But we have to get this thing behind us and go play Denver.”
In the other locker room, Bill Belichick wasn’t popping open any champagne bottles just yet. “Of course the division games are important, no doubt,” the Patriots head coach said. “But we’re not even at Thanksgiving yet. There’s a lot of football left in the season. One football game won’t win you much. But it’s a good win and we’re happy to have it.”
It may just be one game, but New England holds more than the tie breaker with the Jets. They have erased a good part of what that postseason loss meant and are once again in control and the team to beat in the AFC East.
Exactly what Ryan was talking about back in July.