FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Rex Ryan is ready to move on from last Sunday's 30-27 upset of the Patriots, but not before getting in a few last shots at New England coach Bill Belichick over a controversial officiating call in overtime. And not before telling me the Jets not only deserved to beat the Patriots, but expected to all along.
Yes, the Jets-Patriots border war is still simmering, long after Nick Folk's game-winning field goal gave the Jets their biggest win in this season of surprises. In a quiet corner of the Jets' practice facility Wednesday, Ryan fired the latest salvos at the Patriots' coach.
"I think [he's] trying to take away from the fact that we earned the game," Ryan said in response to Belichick's suggestion that the Jets were guilty of, but weren't called for, a similar penalty earlier in the game. "Any way you shake it, we earned that game. When you're 2-1 in time of possession, when you've got 69 runs and completions to 42, when you win the quarterback rating against them, those are all factors that go into wins and losses. We earned that game and to me, we never did what he's claiming we did. That's not accurate."
Besides, the result wasn't all that surprising to Ryan.
"This one here, it was a good win," he said, "but quite honestly, I think we expected to win."
Ryan, never one to pass up a chance to add more sizzle to one of the hottest rivalries in pro sports, earlier in the day took umbrage to Belichick's suggestion that the Jets were guilty of the same infraction.
"That's not true," Ryan told reporters. "[Belichick's] got to make up his mind. Was he aware of this thing? Was it second-level, all this kind of jazz, or now the story is we did it? OK, I got you. The fact is we're moving on. We earned that victory plain and simple, and we're focused on Cincinnati now."
Belichick had taken one last swipe at the Jets on a conference call on Tuesday, suggesting that the Jets were guilty of the same infraction the Patriots were called for on Folk's missed 56-yard field-goal attempt in OT. The Pats were called for unsportsmanlike conduct when rookie defensive tackle Chris Jones was seen pushing a teammate into the Jets' line. The rule was instituted before this season as a way to improve player safety.
"Well, I mean, since they were using the play themselves, I don't even know about all that," Belichick said when asked about reports the Jets had seen the Patriots use the tactic the previous week against the Saints and alerted officials to keep an eye on his players. "But basically we're just moving on here."
It was a typically understated dig from Belichick, but one that certainly registered inside the Jets' building. And Ryan wasn't the only one giving Belichick the business Wednesday.
"We won fair and square," right guard Willie Colon said. "The call that was made was a good call. It was in the rules. It wasn't anything the refs made up, by any means. At the end of the day, we won."
When asked if he believed it was sour grapes on Belichick's part, Colon replied, "No question. No question. I'm not going to sit here and make excuses, win, lose or draw. You do your job to the best of your ability, and if you come out on the great side of it, you won. If you lose, take it like a man. You move on."
"We won, man. The refs did their job, threw the flag and we won the game," defensive tackle Mo Wilkerson said. "That's all that matters. The Jets won."
Linebacker Calvin Pace was similarly confused about Belichick's range of reactions about the play, from suggesting immediately after the game that the officials got it wrong, to then admitting the Patriots misinterpreted the rule, to accusing the Jets of doing the same thing.
"It's like he didn't admit it, then he admitted it," Pace said. "At some point, you've won so many games, you win graciously, you've got to lose graciously.
"We played well. It's not like we just had a fluke win. I thought we played well, regardless."
It was a huge win for the Jets, who improved to 4-3 and pulled to within a game of the 5-2 Patriots. It may have saved the season.
"If we didn't come out and [win] that game," Colon said, "we could pretty much kiss the division goodbye."