EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tom Brady still hates the New York Jets.
That means all is right in the world of one of the NFL’s most intense rivalries.
“There are not many New Yorkers that like people from Boston and vice versa,” the New England Patriots quarterback said. “When I got here, it was always Yankees-Red Sox. There’s just something between New York and Boston. The teams have been very competitive. It’s been a great rivalry.”
The latest showdown comes Sunday at New Meadowlands Stadium, where the Jets will try to put a disappointing opening-game loss behind them and shut down a Patriots team that appears to have no intentions of giving up its top spot in the AFC East.
“Big games are more than just a single game,” Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez said. “They kind of put you ahead of the curve there with the conference race and the divisional race. This is a monster one.”
It almost always is between these teams. Brady only added to it all last month when he was asked what he thought of the chatty Jets’ appearance on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” this summer.
“Honestly, I haven’t turned it on,” he said during a radio interview. “I hate the Jets, so I refuse to support that show.”
So, Tom, now that a few weeks have passed, could you expand on how you feel?
“Can I expand on those feelings?” Brady asked with a laugh. “Do they really need to be expanded on?”
Well, when it comes to Patriots-Jets, not really. There’s been plenty to talk over the last several years: From Bill Parcells to Bill Belichick to Curtis Martin to Eric Mangini and Spygate.
“It’s a heated rivalry, no question about it,” said Jets right tackle Damien Woody, who also played for the Patriots from 1999-2003. “I think it would be even more intriguing if we could win the division because they’ve kind of dominated it for years.”
The franchises are contrasts of each other, with the men who lead them on opposite ends of the personality spectrum. There’s the tightlipped, close-to-the-vest Belichick. Then, there’s Rex Ryan, the brash, say-anything Jets coach whose mouth makes headlines regularly.
“I think our styles are a little different, but I don’t think that really matters,” Belichick said. “I have a lot of respect for what he does and the way that his teams play.”
After he was hired by the Jets, Ryan announced that he didn’t come to New York “to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings.” He wasn’t attacking the Patriots coach; rather, he was trying to make certain everyone knew the Jets want to be where their rivals have been for years.
“I know the only way things are going to work for me is if I’m myself,” Ryan said. “I can’t go out and try to clone myself into Bill Belichick. I’d love to have his record, the Super Bowl rings. I’m working on it, so we’ll see when it’s all said and done how many I can end up with.”
Ryan’s twin brother, Rob, has two of his own already — thanks to Belichick. Rob Ryan was the Patriots’ linebackers coach from 2000-03. Belichick also knew of the Ryans’ father, Buddy, who was a head coach and coordinator early in the Patriots coach’s early career.
“We’ve hung a little bit,” Belichick said of he and Rex Ryan. “Not too much, but a little bit.”
While there was clearly tension between the franchises when Mangini was coaching the Jets, there seems to be a competitive rivalry — nothing personal — now.
“You guys know the kind of respect I have for Belichick, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to go out and try to beat him because that’s my job,” Ryan said. “We’ve got the same position. Trust me, I’m going to try like crazy to beat him.”
That will start with making sure the offense has a better showing than it did in the season opener. The Jets gained just 176 total yards, went 1 for 11 on third down and tied a franchise low with six first downs in a 10-9 loss to Baltimore. Sanchez was also held to just 74 yards passing, second-lowest total of his young career.
“I wouldn’t say I’m concerned,” Sanchez said. “It’s way too early to hit the panic button with the guys we have in this room on the offensive side of the ball.”
Meanwhile, New England’s offense looked as dangerous as ever in a 38-24 win over Cincinnati, with Brady throwing three touchdown passes, including two to Wes Welker, who has made a remarkable recovery from a knee injury. Welker missed the first meeting last season, but carved up the Jets in the second game with a career-high 15 catches for 192 yards.
“He’s had some great games against the Jets,” Brady said. “He’s hard to cover because of his ability to get open with his quickness.”
If that’s not enough, the Jets will also have to contend with Randy Moss, who took offense to cornerback Darrelle Revis referring to him as a “slouch” in January after holding him to nine catches for 58 yards in two games last season. Revis, dealing with a tweaked hamstring after missing training camp in a contract dispute, likes his chances of shutting down Moss again.
“I’m a very confident player, and I’ve covered this guy before,” Revis said. “We’ve seen each other in the past. I just need to focus on my game plan and do what I do best.”
And both teams will try to win by doing it their way, something both coaches have been doing for years — whether people like their styles or not.
“We just go about our business a different way, and a way that has worked for us,” Brady said. “Every coach has their style, and we really take on the style of our head coach, who, as you guys know, doesn’t say much. So we typically don’t say much. And when we do, we get yelled at pretty good.
“That doesn’t seem that’s the program the Jets are on. That’s the way it is.”