Rex: Never felt more pressure than 911 opener

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Rex: Never felt more pressure than 911 opener

From Comcast SportsNet Tuesday, September 6, 2011
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) -- Rex Ryan says this one is for New York. The Jets coach has been involved in lots of big games during his career: a Super Bowl, conference title games and fierce rivalry matchups. The season opener Sunday night against Dallas on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks tops em all. "The significance of it, I think it's stronger than any game I've ever felt," Ryan said Monday. "I feel more pressure on this game for whatever reason than any game I've ever coached, it seems like." That's saying a lot for a coach who has been involved in several pressure-packed games, including the last two AFC championships. But with the game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., a few miles across the Hudson River from the World Trade Center site, comes a responsibility, Ryan feels, to win in front of a national television audience for the city his team represents. "I think maybe that's it," Ryan said. "This whole region, this whole area. I know it's football and we're not talking about life or death or anything like that. I don't know, that's kind of how I'm taking it. It's my job. My job is to get this team ready to go, and we will." Ryan, in his third season as coach of the Jets, was an assistant in Baltimore at the time of the attacks. He recalled that he was walking by the office of Pat Moriarty, a Ravens executive, and they both watched on TV as the second plane struck the World Trade Center. "It was like, Oh my goodness,'" Ryan said. He remembered thinking about his cousin, Matthew Russo -- his stepmother's nephew -- who was a member of the New York City Fire Department at the time. Russo, who has since retired, was not called to the World Trade Center that day but knew plenty of firefighters who were. Ryan knows there will be several fans sitting in the stadium Sunday night, and many more at home, who were directly affected by what went on that day back in 2001. That reality is what is motivating Ryan to have the Jets make them all proud. "I feel, I don't know, it's different, like a responsibility," he said. "Every week, it's my responsibility to make sure our team is prepared. But I don't know, it just feels different to me." The Jets got an up-close look at the construction site at the World Trade Center last Wednesday, when they took a team trip there after their annual charity luncheon in Manhattan. "When you go there, there's a certain aura that you have when you stand there and you just imagine that day and just the chaos and everything that so many families and people went through," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "It just gave you that feeling that you're special. You're lucky to be standing on that spot, but at the same time you're special because you get a chance to do something that a lot of people don't get to do. But it's very humbling at the same time." It will be an emotional start to what Ryan has repeatedly promised will be a special season, one he insists will end with a trip -- and a win -- to Indianapolis and the Jets holding the Lombardi Trophy. And it all begins with a matchup against his brother, Rob, the Cowboys' defensive coordinator and a team that always has Super Bowl aspirations. "You can't ask for a better stage," wide receiver Plaxico Burress said. "Especially with everything going on with the 10-year anniversary of 911 and playing America's Team,' the Cowboys. It's the first Sunday night game of the year. We're playing them here. Great organization, great stadium. You just can't set a better stage for the things that we want to accomplish as a team. We're just embracing it. I think we're going to go out and handle our business." Already a night loaded with story lines, the game will also mark the official return of Burress, who hasn't played in a regular-season game since 2008. Burress spent 20 months in prison on a gun charge after accidentally shooting himself in the leg in a Manhattan nightclub, wondering what was in store for his football career. He's now expected to be a top receiver for Mark Sanchez, teaming with Santonio Holmes and Derrick Mason on an offense that is expected to air things out a little more this season. And, Burress can't wait to run out of the tunnel Sunday. "I kind of go over in my mind what it's going to feel like, but I don't even know," he said. "When I get out there, whatever happens, if I shed a few tears or whatever, the world will see it." Notes: Ryan expects FB John Conner to play in the opener after he missed the preseason finale with a sprained left ankle. "I've been doing everything," Conner said. "Strengthening exercises, pool workouts, everything I can just to be back as soon as possible." TE Matt Mulligan would serve as the fullback if Conner can't go. ... OL Rob Turner isn't sure when he'll return from a broken right leg, but hopes it's sometime this season. He's getting around the facility on a scooter with a Texas "ROB 75" license plate. He was injured in the preseason opener at Houston. "I felt it pop when I got rolled up on, but I took two steps and I felt the bone shift in my leg," he said. "That's when I sat down and tapped my helmet because I knew something was broken." ... CB Darrelle Revis is recovering from a tweaked hip and rookie DL Kenrick Ellis from a left hamstring issue, but Ryan said neither ailment is serious.

Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz in 'attack mode'

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Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz in 'attack mode'

CHICAGO -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 5-2 win over the White Sox:

 

QUOTES

"I think the most encouraging thing was after a couple of hard-hit balls early on, he was still in attack mode.'' - John Farrell on Clay Buchholz.

"The biggest thing centers around his fastball. First inning, he might have been up a little bit. But after that, he was down in the zone and the curveball was a good compliment to that.'' - Farrell.

"Man, I tell you what -- he does it in such big moments.'' - Farrell on David Ortiz.

"If you could paint a picture, I think tonight would be just about what everybody would want to do.'' - Buchholz on his outing.

"I think everybody would be lying if they said they didn't see your numbers; you see them every day. (Being) 0-3 with a six-something (ERA) is obviously not where you want to be.'' - Buchholz.

"Hopefully, this is the start of something good coming out of him.'' - Ortiz on Buchholz.

"You feel like the luckiest man on planet earth - finally hitting the ball where no one's at!'' - Ortiz on beating the shift with a single through the shortstop hole in the seventh

 

NOTES

* When the Red Sox homer, they're 11-6.

* Clay Buchholz's win was his first since last July 10.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

* Mookie Betts has scored at least one run in 10 of his last 14 games.

* David Ortiz is now one homer from tying Carl Yastrzemski for second-most homers in franchise history at 452.

* Ortiz tied Gary Sheffield for 25th place all-time in homers with 509.

 

STARS

1) Clay Buchholz

After five straight poor outings, Buchholz turned in a gem, giving up two runs in the first, then nothing else for the next six innings.

2) David Ortiz

As he so often does, Ortiz delivered when the Red Sox needed him most, clocking a two-run homer in the fifth to turn a one-run deficit into a two-run lead.

3) Jose Abreu

The White Sox slugger belted a two-run homer in the first to give him five RBI in the two games in this series.

 

First impressions: Buchholz finishes strong vs. White Sox

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First impressions: Buchholz finishes strong vs. White Sox

CHICAGO - First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-2 win over the White Sox.

 

If this was some sort of must-win proposition for Clay Buchholz, he passed his test.

Buchholz found himself behind 2-0 just three batters in when he allowed a two-run homer to Jose Abreu, but he righted himself nicely after that.

Buchholz pitched seven innings and didn't allow another run. In fact, Buchholz only yielded two more hits after the first - both singles.

John Farrell said he wanted to see Buchholz attack the strike zone with his fastball, pitch with a quicker tempo and not rely so much on his secondary stuff. To varying degrees, Buchholz accomplished all three and finished strong - retiring the last 10 hitters in a row and 16 of the last 17.

 

Josh Rutledge had a nice night off the bench.

Rutledge was a last-minute addition to the lineup when Hanley Ramirez was scratched with the flu and Travis Shaw was shifted from third base to first base.

Rutledge reached base three times with two singles and a walk. One of the singles drove in the fourth run, scoring Chris Young with an important insurance run.

 

David Ortiz broke out of his U.S. Cellular slump in a big way.

Coming into the game, Ortiz was hitless here in his last 19 at-bats and when he hit into a double play in the first and flied to center in the third, that stretched to 0-for-21. Since the start of 2014, those first two at-bats made Ortiz 1-for-26.

But in the fifth, Ortiz hammered a pitch from Carlos Rodon into the seats in right for a two-run homer, giving the Red Sox their first lead of the series.

For all the talk about Ortiz's difficulty hitting lefties, he's now third among lefty batters in homers off lefthanded pitchers since last July 2.

 

The home run power continues to be in short supply beyond Ortiz.

Last season, the Red Sox didn't have anyone hit 20 homers other than the (then) 39-year-old Ortiz.

Might the same thing happen again this year?

Ortiz hit his sixth homer last night, again leading the club. Mookie Betts is the only other hitter on the Sox with more than three homers -- and he hasn't hit one in his last 58 at-bats, dating back a week and a half.