The Patriots are rolling into Giants Stadium, likely for the last time, this coming Sunday for a showdown with the Jets in what will be a distinctly different sight compared to the last time these two teams tangled. Last year, down the stretch, the Jets were the ones with the veteran quarterback leading his team past a young, unproven one in a game that came down to the wire, ending with Gang Green as the buzz of the league for a week, and of course we all know how well it turned out for them, so no need to re-hash it here. But here it is 2009, Favre and Cassell are gone, and the Patriots are again a team with Super Bowl aspirations under Tom Brady and the Jets are in their third new era of the decade.
The Pats come in on the heels of a last minute victory against the Bills, in what many thought would be a re-coronation of Tom Brady, and in many ways it was. After shaking off the rust of missing a full season, Brady found his rhythm when the situation went critical and for the last quarter of the game the Patriots looked like themselves again. The same Patriots that lit up the league and fell one game short in the 2007, the ones that seemed to take it as a personal insult if a team tried to beat them. Don't make them angry, you wouldn't like them when they're angry.
So I watched the game on Monday Night almost hoping that the Patriots would win. My logic being that it would be better for the Jets, this way the Pats wouldn't come in with a chip on their shoulder staring at the prospect of starting 0-2. No, a nice solid victory, with everyone gushing and ready to give them the Lombardi trophy would make it easier to believe that just maybe the Jets could steal one from them on Sunday.
Then I remembered what it was like watching the Patriots play in that 2007 season. Even in the very few games they weren't annihilating the opposition, there was always a sense that they could put it in the end zone at will, I would cite the final game of the season against the Giants and another Monday Night affair against the Ravens. So, at the risk of deriving too much from one game, last night, for as good as the Bills looked for the majority of the game, I had a hard time doubting that the Pats would win.
I tried describing this impending sense of doom to a friend. He's a big wrestling fan, so the best way I could think of putting it was watching Hulk Hogan wrestle in the 1980's. Hogan would get pummeled for a large part of the match, it would look like he was out, but then, just when things appeared at their bleakest, he would get a sudden burst of strength from nowhere and after some finger wagging and huffing and puffing the next thing you know his hand was raised in victory. The Patriots are Hulk Hogan.
So the Jets are next up, and Rex Ryan seems to be doing everything he can to let everyone know that the Jets aren't intimidated by the Pats, and maybe they aren't, but I wouldn't make them angry.