FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — All that trash talk didn’t stop the Jets from winning.
So why not keep it going?
Soon after New York stunned the New England Patriots with a 28-21 upset Sunday, they were already wagging their tongues at the next team standing in the way of their Super Bowl goal, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Jets will go for their third straight road win this postseason when they face the third top quarterback in their three playoff games, Ben Roethlisberger.
“Big Ben, he’s next on our list,” wide receiver Braylon Edwards said.
The Jets already have beaten Peyton Manning of Indianapolis and Tom Brady of New England to reach the AFC championship game. Now they’re going for the trifecta against a quarterback who led Pittsburgh to a 31-24 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday after trailing 21-7.
“Mission impossible,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “Now on to round three on mission impossible.”
The Jets (13-5) disguised their defenses, sacked a confused Brady five times and got the first interception against him in his last 12 games. Brady had ended the season with 335 consecutive passes without one, an NFL record.
Now his season is over and, he admitted, it’s a shock. After all, the Patriots’ 14-2 record was the best in the NFL entering the playoffs.
“It’s like you’re on the treadmill running at 10 miles an hour and then someone just hits the stop button,” Brady said. “I think we’re a pretty good football team, but not when we play like today.”
Brady lost his third straight postseason game and was outplayed by second-year pro Mark Sanchez, who is 4-1 in his playoff career. Sanchez threw three touchdown passes — a 7-yarder to LaDainian Tomlinson, a 15-yarder to Edwards and a 7-yarder to Santonio Holmes — as the Jets took a 21-11 lead two minutes into the fourth quarter.
Sanchez completed 16 of 25 passes for 194 yards and no interceptions. Brady went 29 of 45 for 299 with two touchdowns and one interception, throwing more than he would have liked because the Patriots trailed much of the game.
“We treated them with respect all week, at least I did with my comments,” Sanchez said.
Antonio Cromartie calling Brady an expletive. Bart Scott said Wes Welker’s “days in a uniform are numbered” after the Patriots wide receiver used several foot references — a shot at Ryan’s foot-fetish video controversy — during a press conference. Belichick benched Welker for the Patriots’ first series, apparently because of those comments.
“We don’t care what people say or whether they like us,” Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said. “We just focus on what we need to do to win games.”
About a half hour before the game, Ryan got his first boos when he was shown on the Gillette Stadium video screens hugging Jason Taylor as the linebacker was loosening up.
The fans had little to cheer about early in the game.
Brady was pressured as much as ever. The defense allowed the Jets to have a balanced attack that produced 120 yards on the ground, led by Shonn Greene’s 76 on 17 carries. The last one, with 1:41 left in the game, was a 16-yard touchdown that he celebrated in an unusual manner.
Greene set the ball down in the end zone and lay his head on it as if it were a pillow. By the time he got up, the excited but decidedly slower Ryan had already run down the sideline waiting to pat him on the helmet.
“Maybe everybody else never believed, but we believed,” Ryan said. “We’re moving on. Same old Jets, back to the AFC championship. The only difference is this time we plan on winning.”
The Jets lost that game to Indianapolis last year.
The Patriots lost in the wild-card round at home last season, 33-14 to Baltimore after trailing 24-0 after the first quarter. Brady finished that game with 23 completions in 42 attempts for 154 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
On Sunday, the MVP favorite who set an NFL record this season with 28 straight wins in regular-season starts at home, stretched his streak of home playoff losses to two.
Brady’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Alge Crumpler and Sammy Morris’ run for a 2-point conversion cut the Jets’ lead to 14-11 late in the third quarter. But Sanchez came right back with the scoring pass to Holmes before directing the drive that led to Greene’s touchdown.
Belichick said the criticism from the Jets during the week had no bearing on the outcome.
“We were ready to play,” he said. “We just didn’t do a good job.”
Deion Branch caught a 13-yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds left, making the score deceptively close. Afterward, the normally pleasant, cooperative wide receiver criticized the postgame behavior of some of the Jets.
“I’m not embarrassed. I’m just frustrated,” he said. “The embarrassing part came from a few classless guys after the game. There were a lot of classless things that went on.”
Care to explain?
“Didn’t you see it?” he said. “You’ve got to go back and watch it. Pretty classless stuff.”
Branch may have launched the last shot in a week when most of the salvos came from the Jets. But he won’t have another chance to make postgame comments. The Jets will.
Their pregame chatter — seven days before they visit the Steelers for the second time in six games — already has begun.
“That’s where my mind’s at already,” said Sanchez, who beat them 22-17 on Dec. 19. “It’s going to be in a tough environment again. and it’s good that we have the experience of playing there because we’re going to need that.”