With the Jets and Patriots both at 9-2 and headed for a critical showdown at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Ryan seemed like he couldn’t wait to get at Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the rest of the Patriots team that will be anxious to get back at the Jets for a 28-14 loss in Week 2.
“It really is special,” Ryan said of the Patriots after the Jets rallied with 23 second-half points to put away the 2-9 Bengals. “We win this game, [that means] we beat ‘em twice and that’s huge. This is a huge test, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Coaches normally don’t like to look ahead to a game so quickly, but not Ryan. He’s already stoked for next Monday night. Especially after watching the Patriots dismantle the Lions just a few hours before Ryan’s Jets beat the Bengals.
“I was all excited at halftime,” Ryan said of the Patriots-Lions game, in which Detroit built a 17-10 lead at the half. “Then after I watched it, I was like, ‘Man, oh, man.’ That team, I’ve give ‘em their props. They look pretty darn good right now. When you look at it, the only thing that matters is they’re 9-2 and we’re 9-2. But I think I put us ahead of them because we beat them here.”
Does Ryan believe the Jets can beat them there? Even if Brady has a 25-game regular season winning streak at home? Uh, if you’ve been around the Jets’ uber-confident coach for more than five minutes, you’ll know the answer to that: of course.
“I don’t care what people believe. I know what I believe,” Ryan said. “Our football team believes that we can beat anybody. They’ve won 25 straight at home, we’ve won eight straight on the road, so we plan on making it nine. I know it’s gonna be tough, but we’re just the men for the job.”
As anxious as Ryan is to see the Patriots, it’s nothing compared to his second-year quarterback. Then again, Mark Sanchez has more than just the matchup on his mind. Despite what turned out to be a convincing second-half performance against the Bengals, Sanchez was beating himself up over an interception and some poor decision-making in the passing game.
““I’m excited to get back out on the field as soon as possible,” Sanchez said. “I wish we were playing tomorrow.”
Seriously, if you didn’t know the final score, you’d have thought the Jets had just lost 40-7 the way he was fuming afterward. The anger was directed solely at himself. Sanchez was especially upset at a third-quarter interception, in which he scrambled away from pressure but then threw a pass that was picked off by linebacker Rey Maualuga at midfield.
“Terrible decision,” he said.
What should he have done?
“Throw it away,” he said. “Throw it in the stands. Hit Fireman Ed. Just a terrible decision. Terrible job. Very selfish play. There’s no regard for the ball. Bad idea.”
Forget all the late comebacks in the fourth quarter and overtime the previous five games. Sanchez was beside himself over his performance last night, in part because he knows he can’t get away with those mistakes against New England.
“It’s going to be imperative for me not to make bad decisions,” he said. “You do that against Tom Brady, and you’re dead.”
He knows it from first-hand experience. In his first game against Brady in New England, Sanchez threw four interceptions in a 31-14 loss last Nov. 22.
“Last year, we went up there, I had no regard for the ball and they ran away with it,” he said. “This year, it’s going to have to be the complete opposite.”
Ah, Patriots Week. And away we go ...