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New York’s win over Indianapolis sets up Patriots-Jets, Part 3

01.08.11 at 11:46 pm ET
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Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan are at the heart of the Patriots-Jets rivalry. (AP)

Get ready for Patriots-Jets III.

On the strength of a 32-yard field goal from Nick Folk at the buzzer, New York beat the Colts 17-16 Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis (recap) to set up a matchup next Sunday at Gillette Stadium between the Patriots and the Jets.

Moments after the game, bombastic New York coach Rex Ryan deflected questions about the impending matchup between New England and New York, saying his team earned the 12 hours to celebrate the win.

“Right now I’m just going to focus on the Colts,” Ryan said. “I think we’ve earned about 12 hours of enjoying this victory. This is a great football team. We beat them at their place, beat Peyton Manning at their place. I don’t know if that’s been done a whole heck of a lot. I know it hasn’t been done by a team that I’ve been on, so I’m just going to focus on the Colts right now.”

The Patriots-Jets divisional playoff meeting will be the third game of the season between the two hated rivals.

New York captured the first contest, a Week 2 matchup at the New Meadowlands by a 28-14 score. In that one, the Patriots held a 14-10 lead heading into the half, but 18 second-half points from the Jets made the difference in the first loss of the season for New England.

But a midseason makeover on the offensive side of the ball — one that included the trades of Randy Moss and Laurence Maroney, as well as the re-acquisition of Deion Branch and the emergence of Danny Woodhead — helped re-energize the New England offense. It was believed by some NFL analysts that these changes were made with a specific goal in mind: To beat the Jets.

“They are building this team specifically to beat the Jets,” NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger told WEEI.com in late October. “You are not going to beat the Jets by taking seven-step drops and looking for Randy Moss 50 yards down the field. You beat the Jets by getting the ball to the quicker guys who can beat coverage. Between [Julian] Edelman, [Wes] Welker, [Deion] Branch and [Danny] Woodhead, that’s what they are doing. All of these changes are designed to beat the Jets.”

Those changes were evident when the two teams met the second time. The Patriots demolished the Jets on Dec. 6 at Gillette Stadium, 45-3. In that game, New England busted out to a 17-0 lead and never looked back on the way to an easy win, as quarterback Tom Brady went 21-for-29 for 326 yards and four touchdowns.

For his part, Ryan has made no secret of the way he feels about the Patriots. When he was named head coach of the Jets in 2009, he said, “I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick‘s, you know, rings.” Earlier this season, he told Newsday, he wanted to “kick Bill Belichick’s ass.” And in the days leading up to New York’s playoff game against the Colts, he took another swipe at New England, saying that nobody prepares harder than Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning. “I know Brady thinks he does. I think there’s probably a little more help with Belichick with Brady than there is with Peyton Manning.”

While these two teams have enjoyed a twice-a-year rivalry, this marks the first time since the 2006 postseason where the two have met in the playoffs. That year, New England won a wild card contest against New York, 37-16, in a game at Gillette Stadium.

Read More: Bill Belichick, brian baldinger, Danny Woodhead, Deion Branch
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