FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Bryce Petty proved he can take a beating. He also learned a pretty valuable lesson last week.
“If anything, it gives me more of an appreciation to get the ball out fast,” the Jets quarterback said with a smile after suffering a chest bruise from a vicious Cameron Wake-Ndamukong Suh double-team last Saturday. “That’s something that I’ve got to do.”
Therein lies the challenge for Petty: Learning as he goes while the Jets’ season comes to a disappointing close. And on Saturday, he’ll face his toughest challenge yet: the Patriots (12-2) on the road.
New England clinched an NFL-record eighth AFC East championship and a first-round bye in the playoffs for a seventh straight season with last week’s win at Denver. Now the Patriots are aiming to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
They certainly have the weapons to do so, starting with future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, who has more wins (203) than any other quarterback in NFL history.
The Jets (4-10) will counter with Petty, 25, a youngster with a gunslinger mentality.
“It’s exactly where I want to be to play against a guy that I’ve grown up watching,” Petty said of Brady, 39. “I can’t think of a better spot to be. We’re excited for it and I’m excited for it. Hopefully as far as the competition goes, making Tom a little uneasy would be nice.”
History isn’t on Petty’s side. Since 2001, starting quarterbacks in their first or second season are 11-38 vs. New England and have lost eight straight, according to ESPN Stats and Information. The last inexperienced quarterback to defeat the Patriots was Miami’s Ryan Tannehill in 2013.
The Jets already anticipated growing pains with Petty, who is 1-2 as a starter. He has three touchdown passes and six interceptions in five games.
Asked how Petty fared in last week’s 34-13 loss to Miami, offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said: “Some good things, some things that we have got to work on. I thought he was more comfortable going into the ballgame than he was the previous times. That part of it was good, and I think he’ll get more comfortable with every game he plays.”
Added coach Todd Bowles: “He understands the scheme that we’re trying to run. He just has to execute.”
And avoid another big hit.
“I was watching ‘The Knight’s Tale’ the other night and they have — I don’t know what those knights wore when they were jousting. Yes, I think I might do that,” Petty joked. “We’ve got some Kevlar. [Head trainer John Mellody] has something he’s worked up over there. We’ll have something on there, but I felt really good. When I touch it, it doesn’t hurt.”
Some Bryce Petty numbers:
11 times sacked