EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey - Rex Ryan didn't look himself in the early hours of Monday morning. He looked . . . humbled. With red-rimmed eyes and a long face, the man annually plagued by premature coronation was left to explain his team's chances of winning the AFC East. "It looks doubtful right now," he admitted. "What am I gonna say? Maybe I should guarantee the fact that we're out of it. Last time I did that we made the playoffs, so, yeah, we got no chance."Before the game began, NBC's cameras showed LaDainian Tomlinson in the middle of the Jets' scrum saying, "The division is ours, it's ours tonight. Let's go get it."Now the division is a long way from their reach. The Patriots have a one-game lead in the standings and the head-to-head tiebreaker. The combined record of the Patriots' next seven opponents is 21-42. During the week, Ryan asked Jets fans to be loud and make things miserable for the Patriots. His team made things so miserable for those fans they were leaving in droves midway through the fourth. "We've been down this road before but . . . you know," Ryan said, his voice trailing off. Starting again, he said, "I apologize to our fans. I thought our fans were ready to go, just like I thought we were. It's disappointing."Inanely phrased questions that would draw a glower from Bill Belichick were answered by Ryan even in all his glumness. Asked if he was surprised by how badly his team played, Ryan said, "I thought we'd play a lot better. You make those mistakes, you fumble a punt. You have poor time management-- a timeout that was a critical error. You make that many mistakes against that team, there's no chance."As for the X's and O's, Ryan was left to shrug. He blew sunshine about the Patriots defense, saying, "That defense is a lot better than people give 'em credit for. They're 32nd in the league (in yards allowed) and all that but when you get up a lot of scores on people you're gonna give up yards."(Aside:They are 32nd in the league because they can't defend; thenumber of blowouts the Patriots have been involved in is minimal. Never mind the fact they're completely rebuilt from training camp.) Asked ifhe was surprised New England played well with so many spare parts inserted,Ryan offered,"You got Tom Brady back there. I don't care who else you got. You see the difference a great quarterback makes in this league. You just gotta look down the road at Indy (where the Peyton Manning-less Colts are winless). This guy's an amazing player."The comment about the "great quarterback" may have been a swipe at Mark Sanchez or maybe not. Ryan does go on and sometimes his foot finds his mouth. If Ryan was making the point Sanchez is inferior to Brady by a lot, at least he didn't discriminate when leveling that charge against the Jets. "We think we're as good as the Patriots," said Ryan."Butclearly we're not."
The Celtics submitted a strong first-quarter performance, but that was about all as the Cavs won Game 1, 113-100.