FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Brandon Lloyd is new to the rivalry between the Patriots and the Jets.
New England’s wide receiver was elsewhere when Rex Ryan said he didn’t become New York’s coach “to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings.” He wasn’t part of it when Wes Welker made references to toes and feet, a dig at foot-fetish reports involving Ryan.
None of those sideshows will matter on Sunday in the 107th meeting between the AFC East foes.
“The best thing is to just approach it like a normal game,” said Lloyd, who split last season between Denver and St. Louis. “The buildup is more so for the fans and the history, but these are current teams, current rosters. We’re not playing against Joe Namath.”
Even Ryan is toning down his usual pre-game zingers. In a conference call with New England reporters on Wednesday, he never spoke of the rivalry or spouted any comments the Patriots could use as motivation.
“The three years I’ve been the head coach, obviously they’ve won our division, and to be quite honest, pretty handily,” Ryan said of the Patriots. “So they’re the ones to beat.”
But this season may be different. New England is in first place in the AFC East as usual. But so are the other teams in the division. The Patriots, Jets, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills all are 3-3.
That makes Sunday’s game more important.
“The good news is you’re tied for first. The bad news
is you’re tied for last,” Ryan said, “but that’s kind of the NFL right now. I think the team that can stay consistent, stay the course, hopefully that’s us and we’ll find a way to get on top this year.”
The Patriots are off to their worst start after six games since 2005, when they also were 3-3. All their losses were decided in the final two minutes — two of them by one point and one by two points. And with Tom Brady and the highest scoring offense in the NFL, they’re still the class of the AFC East.