- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Rob held up a blank sheet of paper Friday as he addressed the media for the first time this week -- an ode to Rex's playful jab from earlier in the week, when he held up a photo of Rob wincing in agony after a defeat.
Of course, Rob still couldn't resist sneaking in a subtle shot of his own.
"Well, you know, he's got a 4-4 team, he's working hard, he's trying to deflect a little heat," Rob said. "And obviously I'll be the bigger man, just walk away. We're just trying to do our job and that's it. We've got no pictures. We're just trying to do our job and trying to win a game."
Make no mistake, Rob is still as passionate as ever about finally being on the winning side of this matchup. Although Rob dominated the rivalry when they were college assistant coaches, Rex is 4-0 since they've been in the NFL.
No matter who wins Sunday, the postgame trash-talking will be relentless.
But it wasn't surprising to see a subdued approach from Rob. For one thing, it wouldn't have meshed with the Saints' style if Rob would have come out and provided any unnecessary bulletin board material.
For another, Rob said the novelty of the rivalry has worn off a bit over the years -- along with some of the pregame theatrics that accompanied earlier matchups.
"Oh there's no question. No question," Rob said. "I mean, we've played, God, it's been a lot of times [four in the NFL, four in college]. So when we first played in college it was pretty cool. Now it's just honestly when the ball's snapped it's a nameless, faceless opponent until you go shake his hand across the field.
"We usually have good times with it. Right now it's too important. Our season's too important to have any little distraction. I'm sure it is for him too."
Rob did say without hesitation that he believes Sunday is his best chance yet to tip the scales, with the 6-1 Saints playing so well on both sides of the ball.
"Yes. Absolutely. No question," Rob said.
Asked if it's because of his defense, Rob said, "No, because I think we have a team. We have a great team here. I know Rex has a really good team. But I like ... I'm not in the prediction business, and I'm not going to. I just know we're working hard and we're trying to do the best we can do. And if our defense can be any little tiny part of our success, then we'll be happy about it."
Asked if Rex ever ribs him for that 4-0 record, Rob said with heavy sarcasm, "Rex? No. … I mean, hey, I've got two Super Bowl rings [as an assistant with the New England Patriots], he's got one [with the Baltimore Ravens]. So it's an easy comeback. But it is what it is, and we'll find out Sunday if he can make that same statement."
Although Rob resisted the trash talking Friday, he still remained plenty entertaining during his media session. Some of the other highlights:
On whether he and Rex are the same kind of jokesters with each other in private as they are in public: "I think we're pretty similar in our own spare time, whether it's jokesters or whatever. We're good people. We're fortunate enough to have a great relationship, as tight as brothers can be. So off the field obviously we're best of friends."
On what's the most creative way that's ever been displayed: "Shoot, I don't even know. We had our own language when we were kids. And I guess the most creative thing that ever came into play there was when [Kristin], who's now my wife walked on the airplane, in twin talk I told him, ‘Hey man, look at this babe.' Ended up marrying her, so it worked out."
On whether he can help Saints quarterback Drew Brees by sharing Rex's tendencies: "I kinda know my brother, but I'm no help to Drew. If Rex plays him the way I played him, then it's gonna be good for the Saints. There's no stopping Drew, and Drew doesn't need my help. He's the best quarterback in the world for a reason. So, no, he doesn't get anything from me."
On whether his family's success in the NFL is unusual: "Well, I mean the Harbaughs get all that thunder, but there was three of us in the National Football League [including father Buddy], and I think they only got two of them, as far as I know. I think it's just, we have a great father. I think a lot of people grow up idolizing their father. And me and Rex are no exception."
On Rex's reaction when Rob joined the Saints: "Oh he was jacked. I mean, I was the most excited and my son Matthew probably a close second. Then Rex was right there third. It was such a blessing to get to come here. It's a big deal, it is. I mean, when you go to an organization like this it's like winning the lottery, and I was fortunate to do it."
On whether he saw any of the Rob Ryan Halloween costumes around town Thursday: "No, I was here working 'til 3."