Foxborough, Mass. Stop the chatter. It’s time for the sound that really matters.
The opening whistle.
“I think all the stuff that will be said up to that point won’t make a difference,” Deion Branch said.
The New England Patriots wide receiver heard the volleys from the New York Jets leading up to today’s divisional playoff game. That pumped up the volume on a rivalry between teams that split their two regular-season meetings but differ dramatically in pregame vocabulary.
“People can say and do what they want,” Jets linebacker Jason Taylor said. “I don’t think it has much bearing as to what happens on the field.”
Jets coach Rex Ryan said Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning studies more than Tom Brady. He also tacked a personal note onto the newest clash between teams with an avowed dislike for each other— it’s Ryan vs. Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Then cornerback Antonio Cromartie used a word found in no respectable dictionary, calling Brady an expletive.
The Patriots largely refrained from entering the fray, preferring to read and react. A pokerfaced Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker made several references to feet in his news conference Thursday, interpreted by some as a dig at recent foot-fetish reports involving Ryan.
“I’m not going to discuss it,” an unusually reticent Ryan said, “but I can take it.”
But can the Jets take what the Patriots dish out on the field — the passing of Brady and an improving young defense that gave the Patriots an NFL-best 14-2 record, eight wins to close the regular season and a league-leading 32.4 points per game?
Bears wary of Seattle
Lake Forest, Ill. — The Chicago Bears know firsthand how dangerous of an opponent the Seattle Seahawks are.
The Bears remember what happened the last time Seattle visited Soldier Field, so their guard was up heading into today’s divisional playoff game.
Losing to the Seahawks again would be a huge letdown for a team that earned the NFC North championship and a first-round bye. And when Seattle beat the Saints last week, that seemed like a good break for Chicago.
After all, the defending champions are out. Instead, the Bears (11-5) get the first division winner with a losing record.
“We know what happened in the first game,” Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs said, referring to a 23-20 loss in October.
They saw what happened to the Saints, too.
They saw a Seahawks team that went 7-9 and needed a win at home over St. Louis to get into the playoffs pull off a stunning upset.