REX RYAN set the tone early in the week - with a brash boast, of course.
His Jets, the coach declared, have been the best football team in New York since he came to town. And he said the facts bear that out: Two playoff trips compared to none by the Giants. But, Ryan wants a lot more.
"I don't want to be the one that is not looked at as the best team in my own state," Ryan said. "There's no way. I want to be the best team, period. Now, do I have the courage to say it? Absolutely."
For the first time in his three seasons as the coach of the Jets (8-6), Ryan gets to play for New York supremacy when he and Tom Coughlin's Giants (7-7) square off tomorrow in a game with plenty of playoff implications.
That's the major focus, getting to the postseason, and it's what prompted the normally tight-lipped Coughlin to say this about Ryan's bravado: "Talk is cheap. Play the game."
Last week, the Giants were embarrassed by the lowly Washington Redskins 23-10, and the Jets were humiliated by the Eagles 45-19. With so much on the line, though, that might actually give this game even more juice than if both had already clinched postseason berths.
Ryan isn't the only one who has been running his mouth. Players have been chirping too.
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said he heard one Giants wide receiver called him merely "decent," while another insisted that teams no longer are afraid of him. All he could do was chuckle.
"I mean, I'm not a monster," a laughing Revis said yesterday. "So why would anybody be scared? I don't know."
On Wednesday, Victor Cruz told reporters that Revis has to "earn his money this year" and that teams "aren't really backing down" from the All-Pro cornerback. "Teams aren't really scared anymore," Cruz added. Hakeem Nicks said Revis is decent, before then saying he's "great."
As far as Revis is concerned, they can just keep talking.
"We'll see on Saturday at 1 p.m." Revis said.
Antonio Cromartie, Revis' fellow starting cornerback, said he likes it when opponents talk trash.
"I like for people to get us riled up," he said. "I hope they keep talking, I hope they talk on Saturday too on the field."
Jets linebacker Calvin Pace was fined $15,000 by the NFL for an illegal hit on Eagles quarterback Michael Vick last Sunday.
Pace slammed into Vick as he threw a 26-yard touchdown to Brent Celek in the Eagles' 45-19 victory, and was called for a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty. Pace told reporters yesterday he planned to appeal the fine.