“Patriots Week” always means a little something extra for the Jets, but this game likely will determine the Jets momentum for the rest of the season. In many ways, the fact that they're playing their biggest rival means very little. For once, it is all about getting a win.
With a win the Jets are suddenly a legitimate team, with a signature win at the Falcons in Week 5 and a rivalry win against their nemesis. Lose, and it is an inauspicious start with their next two games against teams — the Bengals and Saints — in first place in their divisions.
For once, this game isn’t just their biggest rivals. It is simply a must-win game with implications beyond just this week.
“The rivalry is always huge but we need to win this game to have a chance at the postseason. From here on out, we have to win a lot of games to achieve our goals,” right guard Austin Howard said. “But the coaches have done a good job of keeping honed in on our goals for the year, making sure that no game is more than an another, especially one like this that is a historical, traditional rivalry.”
The talk between these two teams has provided bulletin board material for both locker rooms in year’s past. While there is still no love lost between these two teams, it is clear the Jets have shifted focus away from hatred of all things New England to taking care of business and righting the ship after this past Sunday’s loss to the Steelers.
Left guard Willie Colon on Wednesday said of the Patriots, “I hate them.” Surprisingly, that is the extent of the Jets-Patriots banter this week.
“They're 5-1 and they're winning and getting it done. A lot of new names on that team and Tom Brady is playing well. Bottom-line, we have to get it done in our stadium,” Colon said. “It is a chance for us to bounce back after that last game. They came out and we didn't. We just have to come out and perform better and pay attention to our game and how we play and not worry about anything else. Really, that's all that matters.”
The line from Foxboro this week is muted and any trash talk other than Colon's honest admission has been lukewarm. The Patriots do limp into this game an injured and decimated bunch, perhaps giving them pause with regard to lighting the rivalry fire too bright.
There's also the fact that the Patriots have beaten the Jets five times in a row. A rivalry is never as big for the big brother as it is for the little one and big brother isn't buying into it all that much.
“For us, I think this is more a big game for the fans. The fans put a lot of emphasis on it – how much of a rivalry it is,” Patriots running back Stevan Ridley said. “We just take it week-to-week, regardless of who we play we know we're going to have an opponent that's shooting together on Sunday.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.