8:30 PM ET, December 6, 2010
Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
NEW YORK (AP) -- The showdown is set, and Rex and the Jets are ready.
Immediately after New York topped Cincinnati 26-10 on Thursday night -- with no overtime or last-minute heroics needed this time -- the Jets turned their attention to their next opponent.
Yep, those pesky New England Patriots.
"It's the marquee game of the year," Jets coach Rex Ryan said Friday.
With both winning on Thanksgiving, they are tied for the NFL's best record at 9-2. That sets up the meaty Monday night matchup at New England.
"It's not going to get much bigger than that," Ryan said. "So, the fact that it's a divisional game, I guess the only way it would be better if it was the last game of the regular season. But this is pretty good right here."
No doubt about it.
"Ridiculous," right tackle Damien Woody said. "I can't even put it into words."
The Patriots are coming off a convincing 45-24 victory at Detroit, and have won 25 straight at home with Tom Brady as the starting quarterback. The Jets beat them at Foxborough in 2008, when Matt Cassel filled in for an injured Brady. New York has won eight in a row on the road, including going 5-0 this season.
"We've got a good opportunity here ahead of us," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "So, we're going to relax here, kick back for a couple days, try to take this opportunity to rest and spend a little time with our families and be ready to roll here next week with the Jets."
New York holds the tiebreaker over New England in the AFC East because the Jets won the first meeting this season 28-14 in Week 2 at the Meadowlands. The Jets could make a major statement with another win over their rivals.
"I watched that game (Thursday)," Ryan said. "Obviously, they're playing great. They're making big plays on defense, but their offense, that's where you start with. They seemed at times, almost looked like they were unstoppable. I'm pretty confident where our team is right now. We've got the exact same record."
But maybe not the exact same respect.
While many media members and fans are calling the Patriots legitimate Super Bowl contenders, the Jets have some skeptics despite their record. The concern comes from the fact that they had to squeak by lesser teams in overtime in consecutive weeks in Detroit and Cleveland, and then needed a touchdown with 10 seconds left Sunday to beat Houston.
Their game Thursday night appeared headed for the same type of frenzied finish, but Brad Smith sparked New York in the second half with a 53-yard touchdown run and an 89-yard, one-shoed kickoff return for a score.
"We're enjoying this win, but they were in the back of our minds," Smith said of the Patriots. "Seeing how they played and the rivalry we have and just the great games that we have against them, we're excited."
For those who say the Jets have yet to put together a truly dominant performance, Ryan bluntly says, who cares?
"The truth of the matter is sometimes your offense needs to pick up your defense," he said. "Sometimes your defense needs to pick up your offense, and sometimes special teams got to pick up both. We've won that way. We've found different ways. That's the mark of an excellent football team."
But is that enough to beat a Patriots team that's cruising? And, will those flaws catch up to them in the postseason?
"I know we're confident going anywhere to play," Ryan said. "They're certainly confident playing at home in particular, but, hey, it's going to be, in my opinion, the best two teams in football squaring off against each other and we'll see what happens on the field."
Ryan was especially encouraged by the defense having what he thought was its best game. After struggling in the past several games to close out opponents, the Jets got the job done against the Bengals with three sacks, including a game-sealing safety.
"If this group communicates and we don't have mental mistakes, then we're going to be tough for anybody to move the ball against," Ryan said.
The performance by the defense and special teams made up for a lackluster game by Mark Sanchez, who had been terrific the previous three.
"I just took a step in the wrong direction," said Sanchez, who was 16 of 28 for 166 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
"He knows that there's accountability to himself, his teammates, everybody," he said. "The defense responded and I expect Mark to respond."
Ryan said "it's a good possibility" wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (groin) and defensive backs Dwight Lowery (concussion) and Marquice Cole (hamstring) will all be recovered in time for the game. Good thing because the Jets will need everyone at their best, Ryan included, going up against a Belichick-led team that's been so impressive.
"I pride myself on being a good football coach," Ryan said. "With the guys that I have around us, I feel confident, but I'm still not in Bill Belichick's class, and I know that. But I know one thing: He's going to get my best shot."
More from ESPN.com
Hernandez, with 'Lifetime' tat, pleads not guilty
Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to a charge that he tried to silence a witness in a double murder case by shooting the man in the face.
Jets-Patriots: 10 observations
After breaking down film of both teams, Scouts Inc. offers 10 things to watch in this week's Jets-Patriots matchup.
1. What do the Jets do with Tom Brady? It seems that whatever defenses want to do to stop Brady, he will recognize it and exploit it. The initial inclination may be to blitz him and make him uncomfortable in the pocket or knock him down, but the ball comes out so quickly that he can almost always negate the pressure. If you sit back in coverages -- which is not the Jets' style -- Brady can nickel-and-dime a defense to death. The Jets have a good inside blitz package that can get to Brady quicker than from the edges. QBs hate pressures "up the gut" with defenders in their face; that could be a way to take away those good throwing windows.
Recent Blog Posts
New York Jets
- How do the New York Jets' uniforms rate with the rest of the league?
- New York Jets rank 176th in ESPN salary survey
- With QB competition off the table, let's look at Jets' other positional battles
New England Patriots
|Avg Points Allowed||19.3||22.4|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||NYJ|
|Rush Yds Allowed||NYJ|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|New England leads 15-7|
|Sep 19, 2010||NYJ 28, NE 14|
|Nov 22, 2009||NYJ 14, @NE 31|
|Sep 20, 2009||NYJ 16, NE 9|
|Nov 13, 2008||NYJ 34, @NE 31|
|Sep 14, 2008||NYJ 10, NE 19|
|Dec 16, 2007||NYJ 10, @NE 20|
|Sep 9, 2007||NYJ 14, NE 38|
|Jan 7, 2007||NYJ 16, @NE 37|
|Nov 12, 2006||NYJ 17, @NE 14|
|Sep 17, 2006||NYJ 17, NE 24|
|Dec 26, 2005||NYJ 21, NE 31|
|Dec 4, 2005||NYJ 3, @NE 16|
|Dec 26, 2004||NYJ 7, NE 23|
|Oct 24, 2004||NYJ 7, @NE 13|
|Dec 20, 2003||NYJ 16, NE 21|
|Sep 21, 2003||NYJ 16, @NE 23|
|Dec 22, 2002||NYJ 30, @NE 17|
|Sep 15, 2002||NYJ 7, NE 44|
|Dec 2, 2001||NYJ 16, NE 17|
|Sep 23, 2001||NYJ 10, @NE 3|
Entering Week 13, the Jets, at 5-0, are the only undefeated team on the road. However, they've also played the easiest road schedule in the NFL thus far. Their five opponents are a combined 17-38. Now, the Jets face the 2nd-toughest remaining road schedule with the Patriots, Steelers and Bears coming up. Those three are a combined 25-8.[+]
Jets Road Strength of Schedule, 2010 Season
Since Tom Brady's first season as a starter, the Patriots are 33-5 in December, best in the NFL. That includes an 18-1 record at home. That lone loss? December 22, 2002 when the Jets scored 13 unanswered to win 30-17 as Brady managed only 133 passing yards. Since then, the Patriots have won 15 straight December home games.[+]
Highest Win Pct in December, Since 2001
NEXT-LEVEL: Tom Brady leads all NFL quarterbacks, with a minimum of 40 attempts, in play-action passer rating this season. Brady is tied with Joe Flacco for the lead in play-action touchdown passes at nine and unlike Flacco has not thrown an interception. He will matchup Monday against a Jets defense that ranks best in the NFL, allowing a completion percentage of just 42.9 on play-fake passes this season. The Jets have successfully neutralized the fake for Brady since the beginning of 2009.[+]
Tom Brady Play-Action Passing - Last 2 Seasons
From Elias: You may have heard that the Jets, who are 5-0 on the road, face the Patriots, who are 5-0 at home, in New England next Monday night (8:30 ET on ESPN). It will be just the sixth time in NFL history a team at least 5-0 at home hosts a team at least 5-0 on the road. The home team has won the last 3 and is 3-1-1 in the 5 previous matchups overall.[+]
Unbeaten Home Team Hosting Unbeaten Road Team - At Least 5 Home/Road Games, NFL History
Updating Brady home win streak... he can pass Favre for most consecutive home starts won in NFL history. Added note for this week's game - the last team to beat Brady at home was the Jets in 2006.[+]
ESPN Stats & Information