FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Stop the chatter. It's time for the sound that really matters.
The opening whistle.
“I think all the stuff that will be said up to that point won’t make a difference,” said New England Patriots receiver Deion Branch.
The former Seahawks player heard the volleys from the New York Jets leading up to today’s divisional playoff game. That pumped up the volume on a rivalry between teams that split their two regular-season meetings but differ dramatically in pregame vocabulary.
“People can say and do what they want,” Jets linebacker Jason Taylor said. “I don’t think it has much bearing as to what happens on the field.”
Jets coach Rex Ryan said Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning studies more than Patriots QB Tom Brady. He also tacked a personal note onto the newest clash between teams with an avowed dislike for each other — it’s Ryan vs. Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Then cornerback Antonio Cromartie called Brady an expletive.
The Patriots largely refrained from entering the fray, preferring to read and react. Poker faced Patriots receiver Wes Welker made several references to feet in his news conference Thursday, interpreted as a dig at recent foot-fetish reports involving Ryan. “I’m not going to discuss it,” Ryan said, “but I can take it.”
But can the Jets take what the Patriots dish out on the field — the passing of Brady and an improving young defense that gave the Patriots an NFL-best 14-2 record and a league-leading 32.4 points per game?
New York will have to do a much better job than it did six weeks ago in its first visit to Gillette Stadium this season. The Patriots won, 45-3, as Brady threw four touchdown passes. Ryan implied that Brady pointed at the Jets sideline or looked there after scoring.
Not me, Brady said.
“It’s certainly not my intent. I’m sure there’s 50,000 cameras on the game. If I did that I’m sure they’d show it,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever pointed at anybody. That’s not my style.”