The rivalry between the Patriots and Jets has always been a heated one.
Both sides have had their runs of success against the other, but fittingly the teams enter 2009 with a 49-49-1 mark. It doesn't get much closer than that, especially for teams that have been playing at least twice a season since they first met on Sept. 16, 1960 in the AFL.
Over the years the contentious competition included the Patriots' 56-3 drubbing of the Jets to open the 1979 season, the Tuna Bowls that brought the games to new heights after Bill Parcells jumped from New England to New York following the Patriots' 1996 Super Bowl run and another level of intrigue through the Bill Belichick years that included New York's role in igniting the Spygate controversy in 2007.
And while all those entertaining events are now in the past, the games between the two show no signs of lightening up. First-year Jets head coach Rex Ryan made darn sure of that this summer. The bravado-filled former Ravens defensive coordinator made it a point to let anyone who'd listen know that he had no hesitancy in go after the Patriots to get the Jets to where he wants them, namely atop the AFC East and battling for Super Bowl titles.
"I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick's rings," Ryan said this offseason in a radio interview with WFAN in New York. "I came here to win, let's put it that way ... I'm certainly not intimidated by New England or anybody else."
Ryan continued his talkative ways in training camp.
"I'm not going to concede anything," Ryan said. "Do I recognize the fact that Belichick is a heck of a coach? Absolutely. My thing is, I'm not intimidated by him or anyone else in this business. Period. I don't care who it is. Our football team certainly isn't going to be intimidated either. If there are some issues with that, so be it."
Ryan's style, especially in the wake of the departure of Belichick-understudy Eric Mangini and his controlling ways in the Jets locker room, has led to a few of the Gang Green's top players to follow their coaches seemingly loud-mouthed assertions.
"I think we're gong to be a force," first-year Jets linebacker Bart Scott said.
"I don't think you'll find a better team on paper," Calvin Pace claimed.
And safety Kerry Rhodes really has confidence in his new defense, new coach and new ability to speak his mind in the Big Apple.
"We will be the best defense in the league," Rhodes said in the offseason. "I feel for the offenses we're gonna face."
All that came before the Jets had even played a game, long before this Sunday's meeting in the Meadowlands with the Patriots, the clear measuring stick for success in the AFC East over the last decade, and before Tom Brady returned to the regular-season field and hooked up again with his record-setting targets Randy Moss and Wes Welker.
Make no mistake, the Patriots' rivalry with the Jets is as strong as ever. The Border War of years past may be over. Mangini and his Belichick-copying ways may have moved on to Cleveland. But the bad blood and animosity between New England and New York is as elevated as ever.
Let the rivalry continue.
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