Rex Ryan doesn't want to be in Patriots' shadow

Rex Ryan watches his team during the second

Rex Ryan watches his team during the second half of a game against the San Francisco 49ers. (Sept. 30, 2012) (Credit: AP)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- "To be the man, you have to beat the man."

With one line, Rex Ryan laid out his singular mission as coach of the Jets.

As long as the AFC East title runs through New England, Ryan knows his team will never escape the Patriots' shadow. The Jets haven't defeated the Patriots since their stunning 28-21 divisional-round win over the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in 2010. The Jets have a 3-4 record against the Pats under Ryan, but even he knows it has to be better.

"You have to be an excellent team if you plan on knocking them off. But you also have to beat 'em," Ryan said. " . . . We've proved that. We'll see if we're the better team Sunday."

Team D on Pats TEs

It'll take more than just safeties to stop Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, said defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. Instead, they will be defended "as an entire defense," he said. " . . . We feel like we have to defend them as a team, whether you're hitting them at the line of scrimmage or providing help over the top . . . " However, Hernandez (ankle) did not practice Thursday and Gronkowski (hip) was limited.

Jet streams

Ryan initially ruled out NT Sione Po'uha (back) and WR Clyde Gates (shoulder) from practice, but both were limited. C Nick Mangold (ankle) did not practice after Ryan said he would be limited . . . TE Dustin Keller and WR Stephen Hill (hamstrings) practiced, while LB Bart Scott (toe) and LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring) were limited . . . DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), S LaRon Landry (heel), RB Joe McKnight (ankle), RB Bilal Powell (shoulder) and S Eric Smith (knee) didn't practice. . . . RB Brandon Bolden (knee) and G Logan Mankins (calf, hip) did not practice for the Patriots, while S Patrick Chung (shoulder), WR Julian Edelman (hand), LB Dont'a Hightower (hamstring), T Sebastian Vollmer (back, knee) and WR Wes Welker (ankle) were limited.

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