By Mary Paoletti
FOXBORO -- They are who they thought they were.
The Jets. Those mouthy Jets. The team stays with the script after beating New England 28-21 on Sunday.
"That's for all you g--damn nonbelievers," Bart Scott hollers. He walks into the tunnel alongside Santonio Holmes.
"That's how you come in and f-----g take care of business," Holmes screams.
They're talking to no one in particular, to everyone within earshot. The Jets have ousted their rival from the playoffs after a week's worth of pressure building trash-talk. The fury of their postgame relief punches a hole in the pipes.
If you thought they were heated before, then you won't believe what's radiating from this scene.
Darrelle Revis slaps Sione Pouha on the back on the way into the locker room. Dustin Keller stops to lay thunderous high-fives on at least 10 outstretched hands. Braylon Edwards isn't content to merely walk; the receiver leaves the field with arms outstretched and 'Jet Planes' through the concrete hall.
"All the way in," he crows. "All the way in!"
Only LaDainian Tomlinson chooses to savor the moment quietly. He trails his team in a trance, lips locked in a tight smile, head slowly wagging side-to-side.
Tomlinson is an outlier.
New York entered Gillette Stadium at full volume. Beyond the rivalry, there was an embarrassing 45-3 Monday Night Football loss in early December for the Jets to reconcile.
"We just felt like we were totally disrespected," Shaun Ellis says Sunday night. "Granted, they ran the score up on us, Tom Brady with his emotions. They were doing our Jets run on certain plays. Going into this game we just wanted to get them back. Rex Ryan set the tone earlier in the week . . . "
He did, indeed.
The head coach belittled Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's study habits to set the banter ablaze. Corner Antonio Cromartie later called Brady a jerk. Then, Bart Scott returned Wes Welker's fun-loving fire with a physical threat. And how many times in between did Ryan make this bold prediction:
"We're not going to lose."
Lucky for him, they didn't.
Ryan's club won because his team made several key plays (five sacks of Brady, the most of the QB in one game since Super Bowl XLII) and because the Patriots missed some of their own (Patrick Chung's failed fake punt).
After Chung fumbled the direct snap, Ryan could be seen laughing and clapping his hands together gleefully. He looked in giddy disbelief of his own luck.
So of course the coach loped all the way into the end zone in the fourth quarter. He needed to congratulate running back Shonn Greene on his touchdown. He wanted to celebrate the fact that the trash-talking was no longer just trash-talking; it was truth.
"Our coach speaks his mind about what goes on inside and gets ridiculed for it,'' Scott says. "It's easy to say 'no comment,' to make no comments. That's easy. We believe in what we can do, that's why we enjoy hearing ourselves talk.
"I could care less if people believe in us. Win or lose, we don't care what you guys believe about us. All we care about is the people inside these walls believe. You guys can jump on the bandwagon or jump off, we could care less."
Despite the win -- or maybe because of it -- Scott is defensive in the visitor's locker room. He doesn't want to discuss the win with the media, he wants to beat them over the head with it until they apologize from their knees.
While the rest of the team packs up to go home, Scott stands at one end of the room, still in Under Armour and pads, dictating a lecture on 'Perception Versus Reality.' He raises his voice to be heard over Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" as it blares from the stereo.
The gist of the lesson? You thought the Jets were full of crap. Now, you're stepping in a pile of it.
Trevor Pryce is also feeling fresh. The defensive end lumbers from shower to locker, gums flapping. He's quickly surrounded by reporters.
Scribes from all over the country have invaded Gillette -- filling two floors of seating room -- and are now bumping into each other, tripping over discarded jockstraps, socks and wads of athletic tape, to record the most sensational sound they can find.
One needn't look far.
"Tom Brady's gonna figure it out tomorrow: 'Ohh, that's what they were doing!'" Pryce mocked. "Too late, motherf----r."
How does that saying go? 'Let us be humble in victory, and gracious in defeat'?
Reportedly, Jets assistant coaches were giving the middle finger to Patriots fans as they exited their suite. Did Ryan hand out chips for everyone's shoulders during training camp?
The coach set the bar astronomically high by gunning for the Lombardi Trophy before preseason even started. But five losses and some narrow escapes made them an underdog -- the undersized kind that never quits yapping.
Thing is, they like feeling their backs against the wall.
"We knew that we had that it takes to beat this team,'' Mike DeVito says in the post game. "We love it when you put us as the underdog and say that we have no chance. We thrive on that. We proved that today, we beat a great team in their own place. We're going to take it all the way this year. "
They might. And a whole lot of pundits and football fans will be surprised if New York does make it past Pittsburgh next weekend and wins a Super Bowl in Dallas in February. But with the rate the team is talking, they have to.
Only then will they be who they said they were.