FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Just when it seemed as though Rex Ryan was all talked out, the brazen coach took an already emotionally charged Jets-Patriots rivalry to new heights Friday, predicting victory in Foxborough on Sunday.
In his typical boastful and unapologetic way, Ryan said the Jets have earned the right to face New England again and that he and his players are making the trek to Gillette Stadium for nothing short of a win.
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"One thing I can tell you right now, we have plenty of respect for them up there, but we don't fear them," Ryan said. "I can promise you that. We do not fear them. We respect them and we're going to win the game.
"That's our message. It's our message every week. The stakes are as high as you can stack them, but we're going out there. We know we have to go out and take it, and that's what we plan on doing."
Forget last year's AFC Championship Game against Indianapolis, or even last week's come-from-behind victory over those same Colts. As far as Ryan is concerned, this game against New England is much bigger than any other game in franchise history.
Well, except one.
"It'll be huge," he said. "This one might be the second-biggest game in the history of the franchise. Obviously, Super Bowl III being the most.
"This one's huge, because you've got your rival. A team that's won three Super Bowls right there in your own division, at their place, coming off the huge, embarrassing loss we had in the Monday night game. I think this, without question, would be the second-biggest game in the history of the franchise. That's my opinion."
Ryan insisted the Jets' 45-3 loss to the Patriots on Dec. 6 was an aberration, the result of poor play and an overly complex game plan.
But Sunday will be different, he guaranteed, mirroring the sentiments of quarterback Joe Namath, who famously (and correctly) predicted the Jets would defeat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
After days of stressing the importance of preparation, Ryan and his coaching staff fine-tuned the intricacies of their strategies against quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick.
"If I felt there was too much gray or too much thinking, we'd eliminate it," Ryan said. "I feel good about it. I think it's going to be a physical matchup now and I think that's what you want. You want to give your players an opportunity to be successful and I think [with] our preparation, we've done that."
The coach said his players weren't "as sharp as we needed to be" earlier in the week during practice, so he "cut things out" and "tightened things up."
Now the only thing left to do is execute.
"We are ready to go," Ryan said. "We're making that trip up there, we're going to show up, I guarantee you that. And for anybody that thinks it's going to be the same, the same exact outcome as last time, I don't believe that's true. I don't think that's a fact."