Jets/Patriots reaction

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan heads into the locker room after the team defeated the New England Patriots in the AFC division playoff game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts on January 16, 2011. The Jets defeated the Patriots 28-21. UPI/Matthew Healey

Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports: The more lines Ryan spits out the more his players line up, shoulder to shoulder, ready to back him. He was coming into the belly of the beast this time, a playoff game in the same building against the same crew that had humiliated him 45-3 in early December. Ryan and his guys don’t retreat though, they reload. Not once did they think that game would impact this game. Not for a second did they anticipate a repeat result. Ryan didn’t change the game plan, his players said. He just demanded the guys actually follow it. This time the physical Jets defense manhandled the Patriots’ small skill players, making it difficult to run routes and get free and move up and down at will. Nothing was going to be easy this time, they promised; no more 5-foot-7 dudes skipping down the center of the field.

Jackie MacMullan, Ryan declared earlier in the week this game was all about him and the “almost” HC of the NYJ. The Patriots brethren snickered in unison at the bombastic New York coach. It was laughable to consider he was on the same level as their resident genius, Bill Belichick. Wasn’t it? Who’s laughing now? Ryan and his oft-maligned quarterback, Mark Sanchez, advance to the AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, while the shell-shocked Patriots are left to ponder how a superlative regular season was so swiftly reduced to rubble on their home field. Go ahead and predict a Steelers romp next week if you like, but keep in mind that Gang Green has now dispatched of Peyton Manning and the Colts, and Brady and the Patriots in consecutive weeks — winning both games on the road.

Ian O’Connor, Sanchez had thrown seven interceptions over his two previous trips to Foxborough, the last trip ending in complete disgrace, and yet there he was making himself at home in Brady’s living room Sunday, so comfortable he might as well have raided the cover boy’s fridge. When the Patriots decided to make a game of it on an 80-yard touchdown drive at the end of the third quarter, Sanchez made a personal stand that belied his age (24) and experience (not much). He knew he needed to answer Brady’s drive, and so on the very first play of the fourth quarter he found Jerricho Cotchery for a 58-yard gain to the New England 13. On third-and-4, with the Patriots needing to hold the Jets to a field goal, Sanchez delivered what Edwards would call “maybe his best throw of the season.” The throw went to Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone, and Holmes made the kind of catch he made to win Super Bowl XLIII for the team he’ll face next week.

Kevin Blackistone, Fanhouse: It wasn’t until Tom Brady failed to convert a fourth-and-long Sunday at the Jets’ 34-yard line with about five minutes left and down by 10 points that I thought about the priest. I saw him swaddled in a heavy camouflage jacket in the raucous throng outside the Patriots’ Gillette Stadium an hour before kickoff. He must have come to administer last rites to the Bill Belichick & Brady bunch. For when those final minutes expired and the scoreboard showed the Jets won, 28-21, it marked the second consecutive one-and-done in the playoffs for Belichick & Brady, their third playoff loss in a row and their fourth playoff loss in their last six postseason games since beating San Diego in an AFC Divisional playoff matchup in 2007. The dynasty is dead. The Jets were the vultures picking at the carrion. We now know for certain that the Patriots dynasty ended in 2008 Super Bowl when the Giants canceled the Patriots’ bid for an undefeated season. The Patriots haven’t been the same since.

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