FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- As if this game needed more hype.
"I think it'll be huge," Ryan said Friday in his final news conference before Sunday's AFC divisional playoff. "This one will probably be the second-biggest in the history of the franchise."
"This year is huge because you've got your rival," he said, "a team that's won three Super Bowls right there in your own division, at their place, coming off the huge, embarrassing loss that we had in the Monday night game."
"Certainly the stakes are much higher than they were the last time," Brady said, referring to the Patriots' 45-3 rout last month. "Each can execute, certainly, at a very high level against great competition and that's going to be part of the reason why there is going to be millions of people tuned in for the game on Sunday."
The fact these teams clearly don't like each other -- at all -- would be another.
"One thing I can tell you right now, we have plenty of respect for them up there, but we don't fear them," Ryan said. "I can promise you that. We do not fear them. We respect them and we're going to win the game. That's our message. It's our message every week."
There have been plenty of other messages sent from New York to Boston and back during the last few days, making for an interesting week.
"When you have a rivalry like this, things are going to come out," Cotchery said. "People shouldn't be surprised by any of this. This is a contact sport, though, and it's going to be settled out there on the field in the end."
Hall of Fame slugger Reggie Jackson, known to spout off at times during his playing career, said during a radio interview that Ryan's guys should stop yapping and focus on playing.
"That's his opinion," Ryan said. "We're always going to be who we are. Reggie Jackson is always who he was. We could use Reggie's bat this week."
To their credit, the Patriots stayed mostly quiet -- under orders from Belichick, of course, who rarely gets into verbal confrontations with other teams through the media.
But after Patriots owner Robert Kraft told The Associated Press he won't judge the Jets and prefers his team does its talking with its play, wide receiver Wes Welker made several references to feet in his news conference Thursday. It was apparently a dig at recent foot-fetish reports involving Ryan and his wife.
"I think this is a huge rivalry-type game and anything goes," Ryan said, brushing it off. "I can take it. I'm not going to discuss it, but I can take it."
But, were Welker's comments out of line?
"I'm not getting into that," he said.
"It's clever," Cotchery said. "I don't know if he intended it or not, but it was clever."
"Be very careful what you say about our coach," Scott told Newsday on Friday. "His [Welker's] days in a uniform will be numbered. Put it like that."
"Anything goes this week," Ryan said. "That's the way it is."
And, now, all the talk is just about over -- finally.
The rivals split their season series, with both winning at home, a place at which Brady has been nearly flawless in the playoffs. He's 8-1 at Foxborough, but the one blemish came a year ago in a surprising loss to Baltimore.
"I was a little disappointed after that game," linebacker Jerod Mayo said, "but at the same time, I'm not really harping on that game. I'm living for this game."
As are the Jets, who have to deal with a Patriots offense that led the NFL in scoring with 32.4 points per game and tied its own NFL record by scoring at least 30 points in eight consecutive games. Brady also has been incredibly efficient with 36 touchdown passes and only four interceptions -- even after the team traded Randy Moss earlier in the season.
"The biggest thing about him is that he's a winner," Jets linebacker Jason Taylor said. "He knows how to win and you can never count him out."
Especially not with so much on the line at this point in the season.
"This is not NBA basketball where you can let a couple games slide," Taylor said. "Even in the playoffs in those leagues, if they drop one (game), they can always come back the next day and get one. There is no best-of-seven in this league. It's the best of 60 minutes. If you don't show up, you're done."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press