"I don't know if I want to place a significance on it, where (it ranks) in my career, but this is huge for me," Fitzpatrick said of Sunday's duel, per ESPN.com. "I'm excited. This is why everybody in here plays the game, to play in a football games like this in December and have a shot at playing longer."
Long tagged as a mundane journeyman, Fitzpatrick has toiled for six teams over the past decade, with only his stint in Buffalo lasting more than two seasons. In New York, though, the Amish Rifle has reunited with creative play-caller Chan Gailey. The pairing has worked, with Fitzpatrick playing the best football of his career during a heady four-game win streak for the Jets.
This is a massive opportunity for Fitzpatrick, who has a chance to turn the Jets into a playoff team for the first time since 2010. The years since have been a painful oblivion for New York's loyal fan base, watching Rex Ryan go down in flames while Brady's Patriots remain eternally nestled on their comfortable throne.
"When we played them the first time, we felt like we could play with them, but we didn't feel like we could dominate and win that game," Pryor said. "I'm thinking it's a different mindset now that we have."
Unlike those increasingly tedious Ryan-led teams, this year's Jets are fueled by more than just bluster and hot air. Said Bowles: "We've grown. We're playing together and they trust each other a little more. We have better chemistry."
We've seen that on the field over the past four weeks, but the acid test -- the only test that matters -- comes Sunday.