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Jets back up their talk with 28-21 win over Patriots

New York, which had lost by 42 points at New England six weeks earlier, will face Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game.

January 16, 2011|By Sam Farmer
  • Jets receiver Santonio Holmes celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Patriots in the fourth quarter of their AFC divisional playoff game Sunday.
Jets receiver Santonio Holmes celebrates after scoring a touchdown against… (Adam Hunger / Reuters )

Reporting from Foxborough, Mass. — Same old Jets.

Back in the AFC championship game.

Unbelievably, undeniably, unapologetically back.

"Only thing is, we plan on winning this one," a beaming Coach Rex Ryan said after his 10-point underdogs defeated the New England Patriots, 28-21, in a divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium. The victory came on the same field where the Jets lost by 42 six weeks earlier.

Just as it turned that tiresome refrain — "Same old Jets" — on its head, New York flipped Tom Brady's world upside-down. Shoo-in for another most-valuable-player award or not, he was sacked five times and — for the first time since Oct. 17 — had one of his passes intercepted.

"He was a little confused out there," Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said.

Asked if he was stunned the Patriots' season is over, Brady said: "You always are. It's like you're on the treadmill running at 10 miles an hour, and then someone just hits the stop button."

There is plenty of fodder for water-cooler conversations in New England, including a botched fake punt by the Patriots and the apparent benching of receiver Wes Welker, who broke ranks and poked fun at Ryan in a news conference last week.

Welker sat out the first series, and although there were reports it was because of his comments, Coach Bill Belichick declined to comment on the situation after the game.

As for the shivering fans at Gillette, they saw their top-seeded Patriots stumble to a second consecutive one-and-done playoff performance at home. The bitter-cold place was as quiet as a library.

"That's a tough way to end it," Belichick said. "We're a better team than [the way] we played today. But we weren't today."

So the Jets forge ahead, having knocked off Peyton Manning at Indianapolis and Brady at New England. Now, what Ryan calls "Mission: Impossible 3" — the AFC championship game on the road against Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Those three quarterbacks — Manning, Brady and Roethlisberger — have amassed a combined six Super Bowl rings over the last decade.

The Jets are not trembling.

"We don't fear anybody," said linebacker Bart Scott, whose team posted a 22-17 victory at Pittsburgh last month. "We believe that we can match up against anybody. That's all we try to establish at the beginning, no matter how cocky or arrogant we may sound."

The war of words that led into the game against the Patriots was mostly one-sided, with the Jets doing most of the talking and New England ostensibly lying in wait.

Turns out New York's bravado was more than words. It was fat-lip service. Brady, who destroyed the Jets in a 45-3 victory Dec. 6, looked frustrated and at times bewildered by New York's defensive pressure.

"This isn't the first time we played good on defense," said Ryan, whose team reached the AFC title game last season before losing at Indianapolis. "We know a little bit about playing defense."

Making his way around the Jets' locker room after the game, slapping shoulders and shaking hands, was former NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer, whose son, Brian, is New York's offensive coordinator.

The elder Schottenheimer was pleased with the offensive performance but said the Jets' defensive showing was a masterpiece.

"That was the best pass coverage I've seen against the Patriots all year," he said. "There was a defender contesting every throw. It's the best defense, coverage-wise, that I've seen. How many times was Brady running around back there because he couldn't find somebody? That doesn't happen very often in a rhythm passing system like they have."

The Jets know how to put points on the board, and second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez had a tremendous game. He threw three touchdown passes and was neither sacked nor intercepted, logging a passer rating of 127.3.

Sanchez is a club-record 4-1 in playoff games with twice as many postseason victories as Jets Hall of Famer Joe Namath.

"He's only been in the league for two years," Ryan said. "I mentioned last year, one day he's not going to be looked at as the weakness of the team. He's going to be looked at as the strength, and I think you're seeing that right now."

The Patriots' only lead came in the first quarter, when they opened the scoring with a field goal. As a stunned crowd looked on, the Jets scored two touchdowns in the second quarter for a 14-3 lead.

New England trimmed the deficit to 14-11 with a touchdown and two-point conversion in the third quarter, but the Jets roared back in the fourth with a spectacular touchdown catch by Santonio Holmes. He made a brilliant diving grab in the back corner of the end zone, just getting a knee and his toes down before rolling out of bounds.

"Mark put the ball where only I could get it," said Holmes, who made the Super Bowl-winning catch for Pittsburgh two years ago.

"Every time the ball's in the air and coming to [jersey No.] 10, it's a catchable pass. I don't care who's covering me."

More big talk? Maybe, but the Jets have backed it up so far.

"We talk because we believe in ourselves," Ryan said. "That's where all that talk comes from. … For some reason, I don't know, maybe I'm not always wrong on everything I say."

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