“The moment called for a healthy dose of “I told you so” from the man who engineered this masterpiece, but once again, Rex Ryan went with an approach no one saw coming.
“I was dead wrong,” the Jets head coach lied. “I thought it would come down to me and Bill Belichick. Thank God it never did, because he won that battle as he always does.”
It was a nice try, but Ryan can’t talk his way around the all-out blitz of praise headed his way. He might not behave the way an NFL coach is supposed to behave. He might not look like Vince Lombardi, who as far as we know never appeared on the cover of a tabloid with a photo of a women’s foot and the headline “LICK ‘EM!”
But let’s agree on this: The man can coach a little football.
This 28-21 victory over the Patriots, a victory that only changes the entire perception of his franchise, is the proof of that. His team was so well prepared, his game plan so sound and thorough, that there was a moment in the second half when you wondered:
Which team was 14-2 with the genius of a head coach and MVP-caliber quarterback? And which one was the nine-point underdog that was pasted 45-3 last time it made this trip?
Ryan didn’t just beat Belichick, the coach whose rings he promised he would never kiss when he got the job. He schooled him. He didn’t just stop Tom Brady, the player he said didn’t study film like his rival Peyton Manning. He made him look like a rattled rookie.
It was stunning at times. When the Jets weren’t hitting Brady — “And he got hit plenty,” defensive end Trevor Pryce said — they were confusing him with zone defenses and coverage packages.
Brady had an eternity to throw sometimes and still couldn’t find an open receiver. Antonio Cromartie used an expletive to describe him last week, but there was a moment when the TV cameras caught Brady walking off the field after a three-and-out yelling an expletive of his own.
“He just couldn’t get a bead on what we were doing,” said cornerback Darrelle Revis, who had plenty of help in this one. “He was expecting one thing and we showed him another thing.”
That’s coaching. Ryan and his defensive assistants put in four new coverage packages this week designed to take away the middle of the field, the area where the Patriots ran wild in their 45-3 victory against the Jets last month. “