Jets. Patriots. Someone must win. This really is my nightmare.
There are people that wonder why I despise the Patriots since they play in the AFC, and there are people that wonder why I despise the Jets since they represent New York. Well, let me explain…
I grew up as a Giants fan and therefore it’s a birthright to not like the Jets. I am not a New York fan that likes all New York teams just because they are New York. To me, there is no such thing as having an AL team and an NL team or an AFC team and an NFC team. You have one team and that’s it. And as someone that lived in Boston for five years, in which the Patriots won the Super Bowl and the Red Sox won two World Series, I have a hatred for Boston sports team that runs much deeper than the normal New York fan that dislikes Boston teams.
So now on Sunday, I am forced to sit back and watch as one of the two fan bases I am not a fan of gets to celebrate a trip to the AFC Championship. It’s not as bad as if the Mets and Red Sox were to ever meet in the World Series again, but it’s up there.
Back on December 6, I went to Gillette Stadium for Monday Night Football thinking that I would see a possible AFC Championship preview and what was being hyped up as the “Regular Season Super Bowl.” After about 10 minutes of real time, the “Regular Season Super Bowl” became as painful and boring to watch as Ronnie and Sammi have become. I left Massachusetts thinking, “45-3? Did that really just happen?” and thinking that the Jets might be taking the Tom Coughlin Way To Postseason Elimination: an epic collapse.
When people talk about this Sunday’s game, they talk about that Monday game. No one is bringing up the Jets’ Week 2 win over the Patriots way back in September and no one remembers that there was a time not long ago when Eric Mangini and the Browns dropped a 34 spot on the Patriots. But I guess there is a reason for that. A lot has changed since the Patriots lost to the Jets, and a lot has changed even since November 7 when the Browns embarrassed the Patriots. Mangini isn’t even the coach of the Browns anymore and on Wednesday, he was on ESPN talking about the Browns hiring Pat Shurmur. It was so awkward I had to change the channel.
I think the Jets can win on Sunday. I hope they can. And every time I think, “How do I not take the Jets at +8.5?” I think of sitting in the press box at Gillette Stadium a month ago and wondering if the Patriots would ever punt again this season. I hope that the Jets are able to play the way they did against the Colts and keep the game close, but I keep envisioning Tom Brady completing pass after pass across the middle and Mark Sanchez doing what he usually does in Foxboro: throw interceptions (seven interceptions in two games).
The Jets are playing with house money. They went into Indianapolis as the underdog and won. Now they are going into Foxboro against the No. 1 seed and facing the best head coach/quarterback maybe ever and being asked to win again. The only problem is that the Jets haven’t accepted this underdog role, so they sort of took away the whole “house money” concept. Over the last week they have run their mouths off like the wild teens that go on Maury and end up in boot camp and now no one feels bad for the Jets or views them as an underdog away from the point spread.
The Patriots are the ones in the tough spot. A lot of people believe the Jets-Patriots rivalry is equal to or greater than the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, but any sober person would tell you that’s not the case. The Patriots aren’t the Yankees of the NFL, but they are in the same spot that the Yankees found themselves in every season up until the devastating events of 2004. If the Patriots win, they are supposed to win (whether or not Rex Ryan believes that), and if they lose, it’s catastrophic, as NESN.com’s Jeff Howe told me. Any Yankees fan that enjoys playing the Red Sox in the ALCS is delusional. There is nothing fun about it. There is nothing to gain and everything to lose. And if the Yankees and Red Sox were to meet in the 2011 ALCS, the same standards would hold true even though the Red Sox have won two World Series in the last seven years.
I’m not sure if the Jets will win in Foxboro, but I know that’s it’s a lot better for me personally if they do. Here are five reasons why a Jets’ win on Sunday would be good for me (aside from the obvious fact that the Patriots would be losing):
1. The Chance For Rex Ryan To Get To The Super Bowl
I once saw Dave Attell do stand-up and the show started at midnight, and Dave had already done two shows that night. Saying he was drunk would be like saying Marisa Miller is good looking. But as the show went on and on and a waiter kept delivering drinks to Dave, the show only got better and better. I’m sure the people at the 8:00 show got a good show, but it was definitely not as good as the people who went to the 10:00 show, and their show definitely was not as good the show that I saw at midnight. This is what’s happening with Rex Ryan.
Rex started off talking trash on the first episode of Hard Knocks, it got better once the regular season started and then once the Jets began to play important games. Then the playoffs started and he began to call out anyone that walked by him leading up to this game where he has used material on Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Just think about some of the crazy things that have come out of Rex’s mouth and then think about this: he has NEVER been the head coach for a team in the Super Bowl. Imagine Rex Ryan with two weeks between the AFC Championship (if the Jets can get there) and the Super Bowl? I think only a two-week marathon of The Office or Friday Night Lights could keep me as entertained.
2. Revenge For LaDainian Tomlinson And Antonio Cromartie
I have never been a LaDainian Tomlinson guy since he would always find a way to find the bench during postseason games against the Patriots when he would sit with his helmet still on and tinted visor with the oversized Chargers coat keeping him warm as he kept the bench warm. And I didn’t get why it was such a big deal what the Patriots did after they beat the Chargers in the AFC Championship in 2006 when they celebrated on the Chargers field. Don’t want teams celebrating on your field? Don’t lose at home in the playoffs. It’s pretty simple.
But Tomlinson and Antonio Cromartie have great disrespect for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and the Patriots, and they are just waiting to erupt with trash talk after finally beating the Patriots in the postseason. The kind of trash talk that will show up as “[expletive]” in the papers and with the censored “BEEEEEEEEP” on TV. Tomlinson and Cromartie find things to say to Brady and the Patriots now and they have never been successful against them in their careers. It’s scary to think what they are capable of if they do finally beat them.
3. “We’re only going to score 17 points?”
On December 7, I said, “I should hate Tom Brady. He is a legend and an icon in Boston and has brought immense happiness three times to the sports city I hate more than any other. But everything about Tom Brady says I should like him.”
I still don’t know if I like Tom Brady or not, but I know one thing: I don’t like the way he talks to the media about big games. “We will let our play do the talking on the field.” I think I heard that comment before. Oh, that’s right, I did.
Listen, Antonio Cromartie is in no place to be saying what he did to Tom Brady when he should be worried about not having a repeat performance from that Monday night game. But, it’s always fun to see how uncomfortable Tom Brady gets when someone has choice words for him and to see his reaction.
I have a question for Tom: Is Plax going to play defense?
4. Patriots Fans Dealing With The Ultimate Embarrassment
Patriots fans still can’t believe they lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. They can’t believe that David Tyree made the helmet catch or that Plaxico Burress was as open as he was in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. But what they really can’t believe is that they lost to Eli Manning with the perfect season on the line.
No one in New England gives Eli respect. Then again, no one outside of the tri-state area that doesn’t see him play every game does, so it’s not surprising. But there is a big difference between losing to Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez. A big difference. If you think Patriots fans have a hard time still accepting that the Mannings ended their season in consecutive years, think about the trouble they will have sleeping if Mark Sanchez goes into Foxboro and comes out with a trip to the AFC Championship
Since the Patriots’ last Super Bowl win, their season have finished the following ways…
2005: Lost to Broncos in divisional round
2006: Lost to Colts in AFC Championship
2007: Lost to Giants in Super Bowl
2008: Didn’t make playoffs
2009: Lost to Ravens in wild card round
It has been dagger (Champ Bailey) after dagger (Peyton Manning erasing an 18-point deficit) after dagger (Eli to Tyree) after dagger (Brady’s ACL) after dagger (Ray Rice) for the Patriots. A loss at home as the No. 1 seed to their division rival … well, that certainly won’t be easy to get over.
I will never forget watching Super Bowl XLII at my friends’ apartment where the ratio of Patriots fans to Giants fans was about 35 to 5. During the second half, all the Giants went into one of the bedrooms to watch the game, and when Randy Moss caught the go-ahead touchdown pass with 2:42 left, all of the Patriots fans came charging into the room where we were and started prematurely screaming and yelling in our faces. Minutes later we came crashing into the living room where it looked like every Patriots fan at the party had just heard a car had run over their family dog. It was one of the greatest feelings of my life. The look that everyone in the dorm saw on my face when Ruben Sierra grounded out to end Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS had once again found the faces of Boston sports fans.
Part of me wants to go to my friends’ apartment in Boston this Sunday to watch the game for the chance to see that look again. But another part of me knows what it’s like to see the jubilation of winning on Boston fans’ faces, and even if I don’t like the Jets, it will pain me.
On Wednesday, I texted my friend Mike Hurley, a lifelong Patriots fan, and asked him “On a scale of 1-10, how devastating will a loss on Sunday be?” He replied, “16.5.” I have seen that 16.5 before. Actually I saw what was probably a 36.5. I want to see it again.
For the first time and only time in my life … J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!