War of words: Jets vs. Patriots
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Who needs Twitter for pithy one-liners when you've got the Jets and Patriots set to square off in an AFC playoff matchup?
Leading up to Sunday's game, nobody - not even Bill Belichick - has been at a loss for words in either locker room.
And the trash talk hasn't been kind, either. It's been below the belt, and dare we say, at foot level at times - and filled with words you don't want your grandmother to hear.
So in case you missed it, we browsed the transcripts and analysis again, and compiled a quote-for-quote recap of the Northeast's version of an "8 Mile" rap battle . . . with a little color commentary in between.
Monday, Jan. 10
Rex Ryan - who else! - kicked off the pregame banter by simplifying the matchup for all pundits who cared to listen. To Ryan, the teams were matched up identically, so it came down to a battle of the coaches.
"This is about Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan," Ryan said. "There's no question, it's personal. It's about him against myself. That's what it's going to come down to."
Instead of brushing it off, as Belichick is famous for doing, the Patriots responded with some very, very, very dry humor.
“I might have a little quickness on him, he’s probably got a little more strength and power on me,” Belichick said. “I don’t think you’ll see either of us out there making any blocks, or tackles, or runs throws or catches. At least you won’t see me doing that. It’s probably a good thing for our team.”
Belichick then took a pre-emptive step to keep any of his players from developing foot-in-mouth syndrome - pun not intended - and placed a gag order on his players for the remainder of the week.
(Spoiler alert: It didn't last long)
Tuesday, Jan. 11
The headliner for Tuesday's verbal spat wasn't too difficult to dig up. It came from Antonio Cromartie, in an interview with The Daily News. Note the very-necessary censoring dotting Cromartie's feelings about Tom Brady and his on-field celebrations:
"We see that a lot. He does it a lot," Cromartie told The Daily News, talking about Brady's flamboyance on the field. "That's the kind of guy he is. We really don't give a damn, to tell you the truth."
"[Brady's] an --. [...] -- him."
Yeah, Cromartie did enough trash talking for everyone on Tuesday.
Wednesday, Jan. 12
If Tuesday was D-Day in the week's verbal spat, Wednesday was Response-to-D-Day. All the talk in both locker rooms dealt with players - including Cromartie - reacting to No. 31's choice words about the Brady. First, a response from Foxborough:
"I've been called worse," Brady said, responding to Cromartie's comments. "I bet there's a long list of people that feel that way. He's a good player. Revis is a great player. They've got a great secondary."
We'll take the Cromartie-good, Revis-great juxtaposition as a muddled shot at Antonio. But Brady wasn't done. It was time to get funny.
"My coach has called me that, my offensive coordinator has, and those guys like me," he said. "Maybe [Cromartie] likes me, I don't know."
We doubt it Tom. Now, would Cromartie back down? Don't count on it.
"Why would I regret them?" Cromartie said. "Nah, that's my opinion and that's how I feel about it. There's no reason for me to sit back and take anything back I said about him, and I'm not. [...] My opinion is never going to change about Brady. I hate him, he hates me, he hates the Jets. Who cares?"
If anybody was happy Cromartie moved to the top of the Pats' hit list, it was Rex. According to the Jets' cornerback, his head coach told him:
"You know what? I'm not the most hated guy in New England anymore."
The support was unanimous for Cromartie throughout the Jets locker room. Bart Scott summed it up best with this gem:
"If that's what he felt he wanted to say, he can go ahead and say it. This is a Fifth Amendment type of locker room."
As for whether Belichick was bothered by Cromartie's R-rated criticism of Brady?
Never one to mince your words, Bill.
Thursday, Jan. 13
The fourth day of QuoteGate started with a current player, a former player, a former coach and even a World Series champion chiming in on the Jets-Patriots saga. There was Terrell Suggs giving his opinion on the Patriots' three Super Bowls.
"A questionable three," Suggs called the titles. "You know, you’ve got the tuck-rule incident and then you’ve got the videotaping of the other team’s practices. [...] It’s just like, OK, what’s going on here? You know? But, hey, it is what it is. They won the games no matter how you did it. But, um, it’s whatever.”
“I think [Brady's] going to unleash hell on them,” Dilfer said. “I do. Early in the week I really felt like the Jets had a chance in this game. I was looking for every reason this thing can be an epic battle and that the Jets can redeem themselves from the 45-3. Then I started doing more film and realizing the Patriots are just smarter than everybody else. And then looking at how they handle it. [...] I think they have the ability to take all this stuff and keep it inside and use it to their advantage come game time."
Of course, no debate is complete without Buddy Ryan, Rex's dad, giving his angle on Sunday's game:
“Oh, I think so,” Ryan said when asked whether the Jets would advance to the AFC Championship. “They’re playing great.”
Then, there was Reggie Jackson. The outspoken outfielder surprisingly didn't appreciate Cromartie's words directed at Brady, and in the twist of the century, suggested AC let his game do the talking. (Really, Reggie?)
"If someone would have called me an --," Jackson said, "I would think, 'What's he thinking about? What's on your mind? The history I've had in postseason, and here we are in the playoffs, and you're making comments? My friend, you need to figure out how to cover No. 83 (Welker) this weekend."
The "Quote of the Day" award, though? Wes Welker, for his not-so-inconspicuous use of foot-related metaphors. Here are a few samples:
"Having Tom in there, it goes without saying, the guy is who he is and he does a great job of making sure everyone is on the same page and putting their best foot forward going out there and playing well and doing what they can out there. "
"I think [Revis] is very patient. He has good feet."
"You can’t just stick your toe in the water, you’ve got to jump right in."
So coy, Wes.