New York, NY - The New York Jets hired Rex Ryan hoping his brash attitude would resonate in the Big Apple.
Fanning the flames of the rivalry with the New England Patriots and coach Bill Belichick may have been more than they expected, but the first-year coach has stood by his verbal jabs.
After leading their teams to season-opening victories, Ryan and Belichick square off for the first time Sunday when the Jets host the Patriots.
Oddsmakers from online sports book BetOnline have made the Patriots -3 point spread favorites (View NFL odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 78% of bets for this game have been placed on the Patriots -3 (View NFL bet percentages).
Ryan was hired by the Jets to replace Eric Mangini in January after spending 10 years on Baltimore's staff, helping create one of the most ferocious defenses in the NFL.
Shortly after being hired, the former defensive coordinator didn't waste time showing off his strong personality, saying in a radio interview he didn't come to New York "to kiss Bill Belichick's rings."
He clarified his comments during the preseason, but added that he's "not trying to be disrespectful."
"When I said that about Belichick, I'm just letting him know I'm not intimidated by him," said Ryan, who won a Super Bowl after the 2000 season as the Ravens' defensive line coach. "He's got the same position I have. We're both head coaches in this league. He just happens to have a hell of a lot more Super Bowl wins. ... But we're not going to tiptoe our way through this thing.
"You don't line up and beat a Bill Belichick-coached team by tiptoeing in there."
Belichick, who has led the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles, doesn't appear to be interested in sparring with the boisterous Ryan through the media.
"I think that's all not really that relevant," Belichick said. "The most important thing to us is we're playing a division game on the road."
Tom Brady echoed the sentiments of his coach.
"Talk is cheap," the New England quarterback said Wednesday with a smile.
The Patriots have won eight straight when visiting the Jets since a 20-19 loss Sept. 11, 2000, during Belichick's first season at the helm. That streak continued with a 19-10 win Sept. 14 but New England lost 34-31 at home to New York on Nov. 13.
New England got this season off to a positive start Monday, as Brady threw two touchdowns to tight end Ben Watson in the final 2:06 to engineer a 25-24 win over Buffalo.
A day earlier, the Jets opened the season with a 24-7 win at Houston as the defense allowed 183 total yards.
"This is the type of defense we're going to play and the intensity we're going to play with," safety Jim Leonhard said. "We feel if we can make it a brawl, we're going to win, and teams don't want that."
New York will have to contend with the Pats' strong offensive unit led by a healthy Brady and wide receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker.
Brady went 39 of 53 for 378 yards with one interception in his first game since missing nearly all of last season with torn knee ligaments.
Moss had 141 receiving yards and Welker had 93 as each caught 12 passes, while the running game managed 73 yards - its lowest output since 2007.
The Patriots might be without linebacker Jerod Mayo, last season's team leader with 139 tackles, due to a knee injury suffered Monday. His status isn't quite clear as Belichick would only confirm the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year won't miss the rest of the season.
"I don't think that's what it is," said Belichick, who rarely divulges injury details. "We go into every game with the entire team understanding that we have to have somebody to replace somebody else at every position."
After Mayo was hurt, the Patriots relied more on a 4-3 alignment than a 3-4, leaving starting inside linebacker Gary Guyton as the middle linebacker. They finished with four sacks and held Buffalo to 276 yards.
The Jets' Mark Sanchez, the fifth overall pick in April's draft, will likely have a much stiffer test against New England after going 18 for 31 for 272 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his NFL debut last week.
"He's able to move and bide a little extra time and again, this is why we took the guy," Ryan said. "This is why we traded up to get him."
New York hasn't started a season with consecutive wins since going 5-0 to begin 2004
"For us to be who we said we were, we have to go out and prove that every week," said linebacker Bart Scott, who spent his last seven seasons with Baltimore. "So, let's not start giving each other high-fives and having a love fest and a lot of man-love stuff. We've still got a lot of work to do."
Posted: 9/16/09 7:42PM ET