Rex Ryan didn’t issue a call to the fans of Jets Nation this week to fill the Meadowlands one last time for Sunday night’s "win and in" game against the Bengals. He didn’t have to — there will be "a butt in every seat," as Rex said Wednesday.
But the head coach of the Jets still is champing at the bit to feel the heat from the full house in the North Jersey cold (forecast of 16 degrees, minus-2 wind chill).
"I’m excited to see our fans and to play this game in front of our fans," Ryan said at this afternoon’s news conference. "I think it’s going to be a huge advantage for us. We’re preparing, no distractions. If they want to kick it off early, that’s fine with us. Our team is ready to play.
"Our fans want this. I don’t know if they want it as much as our team does, but you really sense how much they want to get to the playoffs."
Safety Kerry Rhodes said the same thing in today’s locker room.
"The fans get on you anyway, but when you’re doing right and winning the game, they’re behind you. I’m a guy who feeds off the fans."
Rhodes also recalls the most recent time the Jets and fans came together in a similar situation, for the win-and-in home game against Oakland in the 2006 regular-season finale. With the crowd roaring louder and louder and twirling their white handout towels faster and faster, the Jets methodically wore down the Raiders, 23-3.
"The crowd was crazy. It was a great atmosphere," Rhodes recalled. "But I’m thinking this week will be even more crazy. I think the fans are really, really excited to see us come out and play and get a win."
The first 70,000 fans will each get a towel Sunday night as well. The white cloth with green lettering reads "WIN AND WE’RE IN!" (Where have we heard that before?)
There will be some holdouts and pessimists who want to blame the Jets for beating the Colts on Sunday, or for struggling in those key games we all know about this season to make this road to the playoffs all the harder, or will want to dabble in that mantra, "Same Old Jets."
That’s OK. We’re all entitled to our opinions. But just remember that those who fall back on SOJ can use that to explain every Jets outcome short of a Super Bowl victory. It’s all right to look backward, but if you look at the present or the future, something good is being put together at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center and the Meadowlands, regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s game, or the game the week after, or the week after that.
"You just can’t worry about the outside critics," said wise head Shaun Ellis. "You just have to tune in as a football team and talk amongst yourselves and collectively bond together during this time. You can get criticized that we back-doored our way in and don’t deserve to be there, things like that. As long as we stay a close-knit group and go out and play our style of football, we should be fine.
"I honestly believe when we get in, we’ll be a dangerous team. We are an all-weather team. We run the ball. We play great defense. We just tone down the mistakes and not turn the ball over and it will be one of those games that comes down to a field goal. We have a great field goal kicker. We have all the weapons. It’s just being confident amongst each other in going out there and getting it done.
Ryan, needless to say, is as confident as Ellis and all his players.
"Our guys have practiced well this week," the coach said. "That’s obviously not selling Cincinnati short. They swept the defending Super Bowl champions, they beat Baltimore twice, they’ve had a great season so far. I like the way they’re building their team. They’re being physical running the ball, the defense is really improved from where they were the last couple of years.
"We know we’re going to be tested. But we’re going to lay it out there and see what happens in front of our fans."
And to all you fans who will be at the game or will be following in front of your favorite TV, radio or Internet site, Happy New Year, stay safe and healthy and make it through the weekend, and we’ll see you at the big game Sunday night.
Ryan reported that cornerback Darrelle Revis, sent home Wednesday with an illness, was back full-go today, and Revis looked good in the locker room. Also, Thomas Jones and Tony Richardson, who were held out of Wednesday’s drills, were back today as well.
But Ryan said CB Donald Strickland (quadriceps bruise) sat out again today. "It doesn’t look that good right now. That’ll be a stretch, to see if he goes," the coach said. "I know he’s trying like heck to play but I don’t think he will."
Tags: Cincinnati Bengals, Darrelle Revis, Donald Strickland, Kerry Rhodes, Meadowlands, Rex Ryan, Shaun Ellis
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