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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When it was over and the New York Jets had the game won, 27-24, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan exhaled a few expletives and stomped onto the field for the postgame handshake with his twin brother, Rex, who offered six consoling words.
"[Rex] just said, 'See you in the Super Bowl,'" Rob said. "I said, 'I'll see you there.'"
If the Jets had lost, their head coach might have been just as unhappy.
|Family reunion: Rob, Buddy and Rex Ryan got together before the game.|
"I'd much rather be on this end than on the other end," Rex said. "As much as I love him, I always want to beat him and that's it. Like I said, hopefully we'll meet again."
Rob has felt this way before: Last season he was the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, who lost to the Jets in overtime in Week 10. Is it just as hard to lose when it's to your slightly older brother?
"Hell, yeah," Rob said, and then considered. "I'm glad he's got his team playing hard and that's good for them."
Rob certainly won the battle of the news conferences during the week. He talked about his brother's Footgate flap by declaring that he was freakier, and then in a more somber moment revealed that their father Buddy's cancer had returned.
When Rex Ryan took the podium later, he was relatively dull. He didn't speak much about their father, and declined again to talk about any personal matters. The most noteworthy thing he said was that he felt pressure to play well for New York on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
No Super Bowl predictions. No wig and a Cowboys jersey. It was almost as if Rex, not Rob, was on the phone from Dallas and some subdued impostor had replaced the boastful Jets coach. Rex Ryan went corporate.
Both Ryans were all business on the field Sunday night. The Cowboys' defense spent the first quarter pushing Mark Sanchez & Co. around; three of the Jets' first four offensive series were three-and-outs.
"We didn't see a lot of the same stuff over and over. It was different stuff all the time," Jets lineman Matt Slauson said. "Nick [Mangold] was going like crazy trying to point out everything and get us our calls. It was tough."
Mangold, the team's center, had a hard time reading where players were heading with nearly constant shifting before the ball was snapped.
"They were moving around a lot," Mangold said. "They've got great players over there and you can do that with great players, because they can get back into position. It was a tough game plan to go against."
The Jets adjusted in the second half, using offensive sets with three tight ends to help solidify the offensive line. Dustin Keller was able to break free for 61 yards on five catches.
"I think that's one thing that gave us a spark, the three tight ends," Keller said. "They didn't really prepare for it and that helped us a lot."
Rob wasn't so convinced the Jets were responsible for the change in fortune. Asked about second-half adjustments, Rob scoffed, "Who, them? Hell, we had the whole team hurt."
Both Ryans love to utilize cornerbacks on the field and in blitz packages. Rob groused about the injuries to his defensive backs, which had many of the Cowboys playing out of their natural position. About half the words he used are unprintable, but comparing his squad to a high school team was a start.
Mangold said he could recognize the defense, even if he didn't know their backstory, that brothers were scheming on opposite sides of the field. Some of it looked similar to what he's seen in training camp over the past two years. It was blitz-heavy and aggressive.
"It's a Ryan; he threw the playbook at us. We saw a lot of stuff and it tested us," Mangold said.
Plaxico Burress needed a half before he scored his first touchdown as a Jet, but he was already able to see the competitiveness between the Ryan brothers in the Cowboys defense.
"[Rob] was definitely trying to be the best coach on the field," Burress said. "You've got to expect that [with] two brothers going at it, two great defensive-minded coaches, that they would be going at it. But we got the win."