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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. | Ding ding ding. Here we go again.
It’s Round 3, Jets-Patriots. And, as usual, Rex Ryan got things off to a rip-roarin’ start.
He described last Saturday’s game against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts as “personal,” too. After a 17-16 win set up this playoff matchup between the Jets (12-5) and Patriots (14-2), Ryan is letting everyone know that this time, it’s really, really personal.
“I recognize that he’s the best and all that,” Ryan said of Belichick. “But, I’m just trying to be the best on Sunday, and I plan on being the best coach on Sunday. That’s what it is. I recognize that my level has to come up, and he’s going to get my best shot. He’s going to get everything I have on Sunday, and if he slips at all, we’re going to beat him.”
Now, those are fightin’ words.
“I might have a little quickness on him,” an uncharacteristically playful Belichick said. “He’s probably got a little more strength and power on me. So, I don’t think you’ll see either one of us out there making any blocks or tackles or runs or throws or catches. At least you won’t see me doing it. It’s probably a good thing for our team.”
But Belichick has the victories, and the Super Bowl rings that Ryan craves. Ryan thinks the teams are evenly matched from the players to the assistant coaches, and a regular-season split supports that. But he acknowledges he needs to do “a ridiculous amount” of preparation to top Belichick after being outcoached by him in their last meeting, a 45-3 rout at New England.
That loss so angered Ryan that he took a game ball and buried it near one of the practice fields as the entire team watched.
“We have to play fast and physical,” Ryan said. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to dummy it up. If you dummy it up against them, you’ll get crushed.”
The way they did just over a month ago. Just to remind his players, Ryan will have the team watch that game film “every day” this week as it prepares for the Patriots.
And Belichick’s response?
“He just looked at me,” Ryan said.
Ryan has often given Belichick respect, calling him a “Hall of Fame coach” and praising his ability to get the most out of his players. But he has also maintained the sizzle in this rivalry, despite it starting long before Ryan got to New York.
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