Challange for the Jets is Psychological- NY Times
By WILLIAM C. RHODEN
The night before the Jets’ monster win at New England, Ty Law, a day into his Jets tenure, stood before his new teammates and told them what the Patriots thought of them. It was an eye-opening perspective from someone who knew.
Law spent 10 seasons with New England, 1995-2004, winning three Super Bowl rings and often putting himself on the delivering end of knockout blows that either derailed the Jets or sent them deeper into the abyss.
“The message I gave to the guys last night was — and I used the word we — was that we thought that if we played you guys in the fourth quarter and if we kept it tight, no matter what happened, y’all were going to find a way to lose,” Law said.
“We felt we had the psychological advantage on you, that no matter what the case was, no matter who was out on the field, we knew if we played the Jets they’re going to find a way to lose and we were going to find a way to win, and that’s just the mentality. I told them you have to go out there and take it, because they’re not going to give you anything.”
Law was nearly responsible for letting Thursday night’s game become another Jets nightmare. After playing brilliantly, mostly against Randy Moss, Law was beaten when Moss made a stellar catch in the end zone with one second left in regulation.
Shaun Ellis, the defensive end who has played all nine of his N.F.L. seasons with the Jets, said that when he saw Moss make the catch he reverted to “same old Jets” mode.
“Truthfully, what I thought was, Here we go again,” Ellis said. “We’ve been in that situation so many times with Brady ending up hurting you. Today, it just happened to be Cassel.”
The Jets never had the superior quarterback when Tom Brady, out for the season with a left knee injury, was leading the Patriots. The difference between past Jets collapses and their triumph Thursday night over Matt Cassel and New England is that now, with Brett Favre, they do.
“It’s more of a state of mind,” Law said. “We have so much talent in this room that if we can put it all together, there’s no telling what we can do.”
When the Patriots were on top of the league, bolstered by skilled veterans, they never played down to the level of inferior opponents. The Jets lost to a poor Oakland Raiders team on Oct. 19 and nearly lost to an even worse Kansas City Chiefs team a week later.
“When you are more talented, you have to play like the more talented team,” Law said.
“One thing we learned over in that other locker room,” he added, nodding in the direction of the Patriots, “is that we knew how to play above the competition. Even if we knew the competition was less, we expected to go out and prove that that other team was a lesser talent. When we played a talented team, we were going to play to our level. That’s what teams have to learn to do.”
The Giants have learned how to do that. Now it’s the Jets’ turn.
On Thursday night, the Jets were on the verge of breaking open the game. The Patriots made some adjustments, and the Jets might have pulled back emotionally.
“When they’re down, kick ’em,” Law said. “That’s what we have to learn here. We had them down like that, but we didn’t kick ’em. We didn’t do that tonight.”
The challenge of playing in New York is maintaining a sense of scale: every game is made into a mountain, into a defining moment. Jets Coach Eric Mangini, to his credit, often attempts to minimize the moment in a way that is reminiscent of Duane Thomas.
You normally wouldn’t pair Mangini, the 37-year-old coach, and Thomas, 61, the running back who, after the 1971 season, helped lead the Dallas Cowboys to their first Super Bowl victory and confounded the news media with stony silence — or cryptic messages, when he did speak. In fact, Thomas refused to speak with Cowboys players, coaches or management during that entire ’71 season.
His most famous line came during the buildup to Super Bowl VI, when a reporter asked him how it felt to play in the ultimate game. Thomas replied, “If it’s the ultimate game, why are they playing it again next year?”
Mangini doesn’t put things quite like that, but his daily message is that no one game is bigger than any other. The victory over the Patriots was huge, but it was not the ultimate. A loss would not have decimated the team, and the victory does not represent a sea change. A victory here does not validate the trade for Favre; the trade was validated the instant it was consummated because Favre is one of the greatest quarterbacks in N.F.L. history.
But beating a hobbled, Brady-less Patriots team in November is not all that is expected from Favre. He was brought in to help lead the Jets to their first Super Bowl championship in 40 seasons. That’s the difference between climbing a hill and scaling a mountain.
Meanwhile, the Jets must undergo an emotional transformation that will carry them from identifying with the league’s bottom feeders to identifying with the N.F.L. elite. This is not an easy task.
As Duane Thomas told the news media more than 30 years ago, as Eric Mangini says on a daily basis now and as Ty Law told the Jets on Wednesday, the ultimate is simply the next game.
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Challenge For The Jets Is Psychological New York Times
Posted 19 November 2008 - 03:10 PM
Thats one thing hopfully we learn... when you have crippled a beast you just don't walk away and turn your back. Pull out the machete and put it out of it's misery. Hopefully the Jets have learnt this in this past game in New England!
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