Paoletti: Jets live up to their own hype


Paoletti: Jets live up to their own hype

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.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks


Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

We're into the Top 10 now.

These are the plays of the Bill Belichick Era you best never forget. And probably can't. They're the ones that led directly to championships -- most for New England, a couple for the other guys. Or they're plays that signified a sea change in the way the New England Patriots under Belichick would be behaving from there on out.

I did my best to stack them in order of importance. You got a problem with that? Good. Let us know what's too high, too low or just plain wrong. And thanks for keeping up!


THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Feb. 3, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 20, Rams 17

THE PLAY: Vinatieri 48-yarder in Superdome delivers SB36 win

WHY IT’S HERE: When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, it was viewed nationally and locally as a cathartic moment for a long-suffering region. Deliverance for a fanbase that resolutely suffered through 90 years of star-crossed heartbreak with a mix of stoicism and fatalism. “Long-suffering Red Sox fan” was a badge of honor, an identity. And New Englanders – baseball fans or not - would self-identify with the hideous notion of Red Sox Nation. There was no “Patriots Nation.” To drag out the forced metaphor, Patriots fans were living in tents and cabins in the wilderness, recluses. Reluctant to be seen in town where they’d be mocked. And suddenly, they cobbled together one of the most improbable, magical seasons in American professional sports, a year which gave birth to a dynasty which was first celebrated, now reviled but always respected. And while so many games and plays led to this 48-yarder – ones we’ve mentioned 12 times on this list – Adam Vinatieri kicking a 48-yarder right down the f****** middle to win the Super Bowl was an orgasmic moment for the recluses and pariahs that had been Patriots fans when nobody would admit to such a thing.


THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Jan. 19, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 16, Raiders 13

THE PLAY: Vinatieri from 45 through a blizzard to tie Snow Bowl

WHY IT’S HERE: Two thoughts traveling on parallel tracks were running through the mind while Adam Vinatieri trotted onto the field and lined up his 45-yarder to tie Oakland in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, the final one at Foxboro Stadium. “There’s no way he can make this kick in this weather,” was the first. “The way this season’s gone, I bet he makes this kick. It can’t end here. It can’t end now.” From where I was sitting in the press box I couldn’t see the ball clearly, probably because I was looking for it on a higher trajectory than Vinatieri used. So I remember Vinatieri going through the ball, my being unable to locate it in the air and then looking for the refs under the goalposts to see their signal. And when I located them, I saw the ball scuttle past. Then I saw the officials’ arms rise. Twenty-five years earlier, the first team I ever followed passionately – the ’76 Patriots – left me in tears when they lost to the Raiders in the playoffs. Now, at 33, I was covering that team and it had gotten a measure of retribution for the 8-year-old me.