Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Jets wisely tone down rhetoric for Steelers
By Tim Graham
For two weeks, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan declared war on the opponent.
He proclaimed the wild-card playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts was personal. He announced this past Sunday's trilogy with the New England Patriots was personal. He challenged Bill Belichick, took shots at Tom Brady, accused the Patriots of rubbing it in the previous time they played.
The Jets paid Ben Roethlisberger plenty of compliments when talking about the Pittsburgh quarterback on Monday.
But when it came to talk about facing the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC title Sunday night, the Jets' psychological warfare was rooted in killing them with kindness.
The Jets are wise to let any Steelers doubt from that game fester on its own rather than getting the Steelers unnecessarily irritated.
Plenty of ammunition is available if the Jets were inclined. Ryan and a few of his players, namely venomous linebacker Bart Scott, have long histories against the Steelers from their days with the Baltimore Ravens. Roethlisberger had a controversial offseason -- if the Jets wanted to go there.
Unlike the Colts or Patriots games, the Jets don't have conversations to avoid. Their recent trash talk helped divert the spotlight from last year's AFC Championship loss in Indianapolis and that Week 13 beatdown at New England.
Reporters didn't spend much time hammering Mark Sanchez and his teammates about his three interceptions and 27.8 passer rating the last time he was in Gillette Stadium.
But there's no harm in revisiting the Jets' last trip to Pittsburgh. The Jets will gladly chat about that all week. Sanchez was efficient. They rushed for 106 yards, 44 over the Steelers' league-leading average. The Jets' defense was great. They scored a special-teams touchdown.
Cromartie and Ryan expressed nothing but admiration for Roethlisberger on Monday.
"He's tough, everything you look for, a competitor," Ryan said. "He's anybody's kind of quarterback. Anybody would love to have that."
Jets defensive lineman Trevor Pryce said it's an "honor and a privilege to play against [Roethlisberger], it really is."
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis was asked if he had a message he wanted to send to Roethlisberger.
"We'll see you on Sunday," Revis replied. "Ya'll guys know me. I don't get into that, 'You're an a-hole' and all that stuff. I don't do that. I respect guys, and I know he's a great quarterback, and I can't wait to play against him."