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Jets back up coach's talk, deal Patriots 16-9 defeat

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Alex Marvez

Alex Marvez is a Senior NFL Writer for FOXSports.com. He has covered the NFL for the past 18 seasons as a beat writer and is the former president of the Pro Football Writers of America. He also is a frequent host on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.

Talking the talk and walking the walk against New England are two different things. The New York Jets showed they could do both. The mouths that spent an entire week roaring at the Patriots backed their words Sunday with a 16-9 home win. It wasn't quite the "embarrassment" New York safety Kerry Rhodes hoped to deliver against a team that had humiliated the Jets with eight consecutive victories at Giants Stadium. But Gang Green still has plenty to boast about. New England hadn't been held without a touchdown in three seasons or lost to a rookie quarterback like Mark Sanchez since 2004. Now 2-0 and atop the AFC East, New York proved first-year head coach Rex Ryan's proud assertions about his team weren't hot air. "It was all in fun, but at the end of the day, it's the game (that matters)," Rhodes said. We knew the Jets were outstanding yappers. The bulletin-board material Ryan provided stood in stark contrast to the bland, cliche-ridden coach-speak of his peers, especially those as publicly stodgy as New England's Bill Belichick and Jets predecessor Eric Mangini. Ryan's confidence trickled down to the Jets players who expressed their own braggadocio and the 78,000-plus fans who answered his plea for extra crowd noise. Ryan even awarded a game ball to New York's "12th man" that will be on display in the team's trophy case. "This is the kind of atmosphere you're used to in college — and then it's like 10 steps above," said Sanchez, who is just one season removed from playing at Southern Cal. Ryan tweaked New England again during the pregame coin toss. As first reported by FOXSports.com NFL insider Jay Glazer, Ryan named third-string quarterback Kevin O'Connell as one of his team captains along with two other ex-Patriots (Damien Woody and Larry Izzo). Ryan wanted to reward O'Connell for sharing so much inside information about the club that cut him during the preseason. The only thing missing was Matt Walsh of Spygate infamy serving as an honorary Jets captain. Yet by having so much fun at New England's expense, Ryan also put New York in a put-up-or-shut-up position. Taking shots at a powerhouse like New England usually backfires. The Patriots have exacted revenge before against lippy opposition like San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson and ex-Pittsburgh safety Anthony Smith. After the first half, it seemed Ryan and Co. also would have to zip it. New England dominated the Jets in taking a 9-3 lead. Sanchez played like a newbie. He produced fewer passing yards (15) than the 17 he lost on a sack-and-fumble on his first snap. "We stunk," Jets running back Leon Washington said. A cleansing occurred at halftime. According to Washington, some of the team leaders spoke up and said there was no reason to panic. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer also decided to trust in Sanchez and become more aggressive in the passing game. The 22-year-old lived up to his "Sanch-ise" nickname as New York's franchise quarterback. Sanchez's first third-quarter pass to Jerricho Cotchery gained 45 yards after the wide receiver shed two tackle attempts. On the next play, Sanchez found tight end Dustin Keller in the back of the end zone. That 9-yard touchdown gave New York a 10-9 lead it never relinquished. "The kid never lacks for confidence, that's for sure," Jets right tackle Damien Woody said. "He played a real efficient game." Sanchez received plenty of help in a 14-of-22, 163-yard outing. While he was never sacked, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was dazed and confused by New York's constant blitzing. Playing without injured wideout and favorite target Wes Welker (knee), Brady completed less than 50 percent of his passes for the first time since a December 2007 game against the Ryan-coached Baltimore defense. New England was even hit with consecutive delay-of-game penalties in the third quarter when Brady took too long to get a read on all of New York's pre-snap movement. Brady was 23 of 37 passing for 216 yards but unable to convert on three trips inside the Jets' red zone. "He was unsure some," said Rhodes, whose unit hasn't allowed an offensive touchdown this season. "Sometimes he knew (the defense) and we still got there. ... Just the pressure overall got him out of his game. He started throwing off his back foot. You can't do that in this league."
Brady also didn't get the same overall team support as Sanchez. Playing without the 2008 Defensive Rookie of the Year, linebacker Jerod Mayo (knee), the Patriots forced only one turnover and never intercepted Sanchez. Special teams were a huge second-half factor. Jets kicker Jay Feely connected on both of his field-goal attempts and New York dictated field position because of its special-teams coverage and returns. Brady led a comeback victory in New England's season opener against Buffalo but had no shot when trying to direct the Patriots 90 yards for a game-tying touchdown with 1:48 remaining. "It wasn't all offense. It wasn't all defense. It was all of us," Sanchez said. "We were playing for each other, our head coach, this organization and what the Jets logo represents. This was an all-out team effort." As the Jets ran out the clock following Brady's fourth-down incompletion, Ryan walked the sideline hugging players and his assistants. Ryan then went to midfield and received the kind of quick, halfhearted handshake Belichick normally gives the opposing coach after a loss. "We're a team that should be respected," a giddy Ryan said. "Sometimes we talk a little bit only because we have confidence and believe we're an outstanding team." Ryan is trying to build the same swagger in New York as the Ravens' defense he coordinated the past four seasons. The Jets won't be trash-talking every future opponent, but there's little reason to believe the same chirping won't resume when New England prepares to host the Jets in a Nov. 22 rematch. Only next time, the Patriots know Ryan and Co. aren't blowing smoke.
Tagged: Patriots, Jets, Chargers, Jay Feely, Tom Brady, Damien Woody, Larry Izzo, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jerricho Cotchery, Wes Welker, Kerry Rhodes, Leon Washington, Dustin Keller, Jerod Mayo, Kevin O'Connell, Mark Sanchez

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