- Last Updated: 3:00 PM, January 17, 2011
- Posted: 3:11 AM, January 17, 2011
REXBOROUGH -- If the Jets go on and win the Super Bowl 42 years after Joe Namath, maybe it will feel the way it felt on the night Bill Belichick and Tom Brady stepped sorrowfully on the shattered pieces of their latest Super Bowl dream that lay strewn at the feet of Jets coach Rex Ryan. No, Ryan wasn't holding and kissing the Lombardi Trophy, or handing it to Woody Johnson. Just the game ball. But Jets 28, Patriots 21 sure felt Super.
"Same Old Jets," Ryan bellowed in a jubilant locker room. "Going back to the AFC Championship Game and we're gonna win that thing." Then Ryan said: "We're not burying this ball!"
Ryan didn't kiss Belichick's rings, he all but ripped them off his fingers and hurled them into the Charles River.
Ryan didn't ask Broadway Brady (five sacks, one interception) and Gisele Bundchen to double-date with him and Michelle, he yanked the Patriots quarterback's flowing locks and offered him the opportunity to take in "Lombardi" again while the Jets are playing the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.
"Like Coach said, we wanted to embarrass them," Darrelle Revis said.
This one goes down as the third greatest victory in Jets history, behind Super Bowl III and the 1968 AFL Championship against the Raiders at frigid Shea Stadium.
It wasn't Ryan's masterstroke of having former Jet Dennis Byrd, the franchise's most inspirational player, deliver a moving, impactful Saturday night speech during which you could hear a pin drop.
No. It was Ryan outcoaching the great Belichick, who had a Rich Kotite moment by calling a fake punt that blew up in his hoodie, and Mark Sanchez (three TD passes, 127.3 quarterback rating) outplaying the great Brady, calmly answering the bell after the Pats closed to within 14-11.
The second-year head coach and the second-year quarterback, walking the walk together, all the way to Pittsburgh.
"The better team won," Bart Scott said. "Not the better quarterback . . . not the better coach . . . the better team won."
Ryan whipped his Jets into an indomitable band of angry gladiators.
"We played with an edge," Jerricho Cotchery said. "Came in at halftime, 'Keep the edge,' that's what we were saying, 'Keep the edge.' "
So much for Brady targeting his designated a--hole, Antonio Cromartie, on a night when Sanchez took a giant step towards Broadway, and towards Broadway Joe.
Everyone rushing Brady was Joe Klecko and Mark Gastineau, everyone in the Jets secondary was Revis.
"We just disguised real good today," Revis said, "and I think that's what confused Tom today."
Or Jack Tatum.
"He may not study like Peyton Manning, but he's pretty good," Ryan said.
But that was anything but the message Ryan had delivered to his team during the week.
"He read the stats off for the last four playoff games . . . if somebody said that somebody [had a] 66 QB rating over his playoff games, would you be scared of that?" Scott asked, rattling off Brady's rating.
Scott was asked when he knew that Gang Green was in Brady's head.
"When he started looking for the rush when there was no rush," Scott said. "When he thought after a certain amount of time that somebody was coming, he was fidgeting and throwing it. I give [Steelers QB] Ben Roethlisberger a lot of credit, 'cause he's man enough to stand in the pocket and look down the barrel of the game and take the hit."
When Shonn Greene scored the 16-yard touchdown that made it 28-14, Ryan, surrounded by signs that read "De-Feet the Jets" and assorted variations of the same theme, began a mad dash down the sideline towards the end zone, where Greene was in no hurry to get to his feet.
"Well if he was standing up, I was gonna tackle him," Ryan said. "But then I realized I don't have a lot of talent, so I was glad that he was on the ground."
Once the Patriots were on the ground, they stayed on the ground.
"What kind of character do you have when you're behind?" Scott asked. "What kind of character do you have when that other team hits you back in the face?
"See, we can give it, but we can take it too."
It's their personality because it's Ryan's personality.
"He's a heckuva coach, man," Cotchery said. "He's a fighter, and so his team is gonna fight as well."
When Ryan stood before his Jets before the game, he had one last message.
"He repeated what Dennis said [Saturday] night," Cotchery said. " 'Make today your day.' "
"I was dead wrong," Ryan said. "I thought it would come down to me and Belichick, and thank goodness it never did, 'cause he won that battle like he always does. It came down to our players, and it came down to the assistant coaches, and we won that battle."
His players, and his assistant coaches. His triumph. When he renamed the place Rexborough.Follow @NYPostsports