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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.
With both winning on Thanksgiving, they are tied for the NFL’s best record at 9-2. That sets up a meaty Monday night matchup on Dec. 6 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. And, the hype should kick into high gear when both teams return to work Monday after a three-day weekend.
“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.
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