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.

Boomer Esiason hopes Tom Brady writes a book about his true feelings for Roger Goodell

Boomer Esiason hopes Tom Brady writes a book about his true feelings for Roger Goodell

Boomer Esiason talks with Toucher and Rich about Tom Brady and the Patriots "dancing around" the issue of winning this season following the suspension, and he would love to see a book in the future

Julien reaches breaking point with struggling, inconsistent Bruins

Julien reaches breaking point with struggling, inconsistent Bruins

It sounds like Claude Julien has reached a breaking point with a fragile, inconsistent group of Bruins players who have lost four games in a row at a critical point in the season.

The Bruins dropped a 5-1 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday afternoon, and completely fell apart in the final period after Tuukka Rask was lifted because of migraine issues in the middle of the game. It was a typical Bruins effort, in which there weren’t enough scoring chances despite 45 shots on net -- largely from the perimeter -- and the defense totally unraveled in the third period once the Penguins got their offense going.

After the loss, the embattled Julien challenged his players, saying they weren’t providing enough across the board . . . which has largely been the case for the last two months as the Bruins have stagnated as a team.

“If you look at some of the mistakes we made, it’s a team that just got unraveled there in the third period,” he told reporters after the game. “With the opportunities that we had, we don’t capitalize on them. You always give the goaltender on the other side some (Matt Murray) credit. He was good tonight but at the same time, if you’re going to win hockey games, you’ve got to find ways to get [shots] through to him.

"It’s frustrating. There are a lot of guys that, right now, aren’t giving us enough, and this is a team that I think needs all 20 guys going in order to win. We don’t have enough talent to think that we can get away with a mediocre game, so this is where it’s important for our guys to understand that and it’s important to have 20 guys that want to go. It’s okay to have talent, but you’ve got to compete. For others, you’ve got to get involved. You’ve got to be willing to do the things that are not fun to do but are going to help your hockey club. It’s too bad because I think the players we expect a lot out of every night are certainly battling every night, but we need more than that . . .

“When you’ve lost three, now four in a row, it sets in. We’ve got to find a way to turn this around and start going back to the drawing board with our guys respecting what they need to do and be patient enough to give it time to turn around. When I say patience I don’t mean we need to do it in the next week. We need to do it next game but we need to respect what we’ve done well and when we’re in our game and within our structure we’ve had success but in order to be within the structure, you’ve got to be willing to want to do those things. Right now, we don’t have everybody and it just takes one guy not to want to do his job and it throws everybody else off. We have to look at personnel that way, and say that if we need to replace some guys, and we need to be patient with others, I want guys that care and want guys that want to come in and give it their all every night. We need more of that, and we don’t have enough right now.”

It remains to be seen what, or who, Julien is referring to when he mentioned personnel during his postgame comments, but it’s clear he's well aware the effort hasn’t been consistently good enough over the last two months.
 
The Bruins have dropped to third in the Atlantic Division, with the Maple Leafs just a point behind them while holding a whopping six games in hand. Even struggling teams like the Panthers, Lightning and Hurricanes have caught up to the B’s in the playoff race, while holding games in hand.

The B’s are in big, big trouble at this point in the season, and it doesn’t get any easier with games against an improving Red Wings club and the dominant Penguins prior to a much-needed break recess for the All-Star break.