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NY JETS articles- 11/12.08

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Giants rank first in top 10 NFL power rankings

Wednesday, November 12th 2008, 12:21 AM


Eli Manning and the Giants are a cut above the rest in Gary Myers' power rankings.

Gary Myers ranks his top 10 teams through 10 weeks of the NFL season.

1. Giants (8-1)

No Giants team has ever won back-to-back titles. This one has a great chance. Motivation for Eli Manning vs. Ravens: He was 4-for-18 for 27 yards with two INTs and 0.0 QB rating against them as a rookie in 2004.

2. Titans (9-0)

Kerry Collins, the ex-Giants QB, vs. Eli Manning, who replaced him, would be an incredible Super Bowl matchup. Titans, who couldn't run vs. Bears, finally asked Collins to win a game for them and he delivered.

3. Patriots (6-3)

Bill Belichick has lost Tom Brady, Rodney Harrison, Laurence Maroney and Adalius Thomas and he keeps winning. You know how much he wants to beat Eric Mangini tomorrow night.

4. Panthers (7-2)

Jake Delhomme put up an eyesore of a passing line in victory over the Raiders last week: 7-of-27 with four INTs and 12.3 rating. They're keeping heat on Giants for NFC's best record and the two meet at Meadowlands on Dec. 21.

5. Steelers (6-3)

Big Ben has been suffering from a bum right shoulder and bad decision-making. They've got to be worried about him in Pittsburgh.

6. Ravens (6-3)

Rookie QB Joe Flacco has Baltimore on four-game winning streak. Ravens are giving up 65.4 rushing yards a game and have not allowed 100-yard rusher in last 28. Can't wait to see Brandon Jacobs vs. Ray Lewis.

7. Redskins (6-3)

They can put an end to the Cowboys' season if they beat them Sunday night. The Skins had their bye week to think about how bad they were against the Steelers.

8. Jets (6-3)

Brett Favre has five games under 200 yards passing. The Jets need him to heat up tomorrow night in game of the year in Foxborough. They got Favre to win these games.

9. Cardinals (6-3)

Kurt Warner could be MVP and Comeback Player of the Year. Cards have longest division title drought in the NFL: All the way back to 1975 when they played in St. Louis.

10. Falcons (6-3)

It's the year of the rookie QB with Matt Ryan and Flacco. After the Michael Vick fiasco, Ryan has saved the franchise.

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This game may not define a season, but it may well make or break the Mangini regime. If he can't beat the injury-addled Patriots now - after Brett Favre has had the time to wrap his mind and arm around the offense - then this loss is on the coach, more than anyone.

Here we have the perfect lab experiment, complete with constants and variables. The constants are Belichick and Mangini. The variables are Brett Favre and Matt Cassel, replacing Chad Pennington and Tom Brady. Now we will find out exactly what made the Patriots so much better than the Jets in recent years. If the Jets win, it was the substantial edge the Pats owned at quarterback. If they lose, then it was Belichick's cunning gray matter all along.

Favre is not a coach, and has no qualms about calling a big game a big game. He has been in a lot more of them than Mangini, so it may be easier for him to confront them headlong.

For Favre, this contest against the Patriots isn't just a chance to make a statement. It's a Rorschach test. The Jets' roster needs to become something more recognizable and purposeful than an ink blot on a depth chart.

We're still trying to find an identity," Favre said. "Until we beat these guys, knock 'em off the top, they'll always be the team to beat. I know exactly what this game means, the weight it carries."

That doesn't mean the Jets should over-think this game, trick it up. Coaches often make this sport too complicated, Favre was saying Tuesday. Trim the playbooks; just let him go out there, throw the ball downfield and play football. Maybe it's a good thing the Jets have just three off days between games. All this talk about Belichick's schemes and about a shortened prep week and about Adalius Thomas' broken arm doesn't amount to a hill of baked beans in Boston, or its surrounding suburbs.

"(Belichick) beats you, in my opinion, with simplicity," Favre said. "In many ways, (the Pats) are simple in what they do. All these computers and schemes and playbooks thick with 200 passes . . . you run 30 or 40 plays, repeat 10 of them."

Of course, Favre has his own survival skills, just like Mangini. He won't carry the load alone, if he can help it. Asked if this game tomorrow was exactly why the Jets acquired him late in the offseason, he smiled and hedged.

"That may be true," Favre said. "It may be why we brought (DT) Kris Jenkins in. Let's put it on him."

For those following the bouncing football, it is hard sometimes to identify the culprit culpable in defeat, or the hero responsible for victory.

Not this time. This one is on Mangini, the coach. He has three days to get his guys ready, to set out a winnable game plan for Favre against the crippled Patriots under hostile conditions.

If all goes well, this could be the sweetest, coldest handshake of his career.


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November 12, 2008

Ty Law is on board as a Jet, despite having not played an NFL game in almost a year, supposedly ready to play in tomorrow night's JetsNew York Jets -Patriots clash at Gillette Stadium for first place in the AFC East.

The timing was odd. But isn't that what Jets-Patriots weeks are all about?

This is merely another chapter in the thick book of trickery and mind games that has characterized this rivalry of hate, disdain and jealousy.

Law yesterday wasn't only talking like he's a lock to play against his former team tomorrow night, he was already playfully talking trash - daring Bill Belichick to throw at him.

"I would throw at me, too," Law said. "I'm just coming back, haven't played, they call me 'old man.' Hell, throw at me. That's what any smart coach would do. I relish the opportunity and look forward to the challenge."

Belichick said yesterday of Law: "He's a good player. We know Ty. He's very competitive with good ball skills. You have to be careful throwing around him."

As for Jets coach Eric Mangini, who certainly would prefer a lower profile from Law, he was much closer to the vest with his plans for the defensive back.

"We'll see how it goes [in practice]," Mangini said. "I think there's definitely a chance [Law will play]. We're looking for him to come in, play a role on the team, just like everyone else."

Law, 34, played for the Jets in 2005 under Herman Edwards, collected 10 INTs and went to the Pro Bowl. He played two more years with the Chiefs but hasn't since any action since 2007.

"I'm just happy I'm able to come out here, and whatever they ask me to do I'll do," Law said. "I feel like a rookie again. I'm excited about it.

"I've got to get in where I fit in and eventually probably be more than just a role player."

That, of course, would mean he's gunning for rookie Dwight Lowery's job. Lowery has been starting since the beginning of the season and, after a strong start, has had problems of late. In fact, he was benched a couple of times in recent weeks.

Lowery, mature beyond his years, took the Law signing in stride. The rookie acknowledged the signing of Law may be a reflection of his recent struggles.

"Yeah. Why wouldn't it be?" Lowery said. "I'm a young guy and things are going to happen. In this situation here, I'll just take it as something to learn from. I honestly feel like this situation couldn't be any better for me and the Jets, so it works for us both.

"[Law] has played in the league a long time, done great things. Any time you bring in a player of that caliber, it can be nothing but a positive thing, especially for the younger players."

One thing that didn't occur upon Law's arrival was a number switch. Law has always worn No. 24, but CB Darrelle RevisDarrelle Revis , who grew up in Law's hometown of Aliquippa, Pa., wears No. 24.

"That was never even part of the discussion," Mangini said. "It was important to Ty that Darrelle keep No. 24."

Law is going with No. 22, his old college number.

How No. 22 does tomorrow night, whether it's chasing Wes Welker around in the slot or whatever he's asked to do, will go a long way toward labeling this a smart move or the curious one is appears to be on the surface.


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BRETT'S BEST PLAY THIS WEEK: HAND OFF TO JONES: RUN FOR GLORY: If the Jets want to knock off the Patriots tomorrow night and take the lead in the AFC East, they need to continue their recent run of success when Brett Favre hands off to Thomas Jones.

Posted: 3:46 am

November 12, 2008

This is the kind of game the New York Jets brought Brett Favre here to win, the kind of game he must win if his legacy in New York is ever going to be meaningful.

Throwing six touchdown passes against the Cardinals is fine, and so is beating up on the Rams on Sunday. But these are the Patriots, the team that, game after game, makes the Jets feel less than worthy. Favre was brought here to change all that.

This is only his second time playing the Patriots as a Jet. But he feels it now.

"I know exactly what this game means, the weight it carries," he said yesterday. "I'm well aware of what New England has done over the past decade or so. It just comes down to football."

Exceptional football. That's what Favre and the Jets must play tomorrow night in a nationally televised game with the AFC East lead at stake. Anything less than the best of Brett and the Jets won't earn a victory, and that could mean everything to their season.

But getting the best of Brett means needing the least from Brett. If the Jets are going to win, Favre will have be more field general than gambler, and much of that will depend on the success of a rejuvenated running game.

"That's one of the interesting questions with this game," said Cris Collinsworth, who'll work the game for the NFL Network. "How much can the Jets get their running game and keep their running game going, and how much is it going to fall in the lap of Brett Favre to make plays in the passing game?

"The Patriots have made a good living for a long time making teams one-dimensional."

The Jets have renewed confidence in their running game, coming off a 47-3 blowout of the Rams in which Thomas JonesThomas Jones rushed for 149 yards and three touchdowns. His average of 5.7 yards per carry was just lower than the previous week, when he earned 5.8 yards per carry (12 for 69 yards, 1 TD) in the Jets' 26-17 win at Buffalo.

Jones now leads the AFC in rushing with 750 yards, with a respectable 4.7 yards per carry. It all means nothing if they can't run against the Patriots.

"It feels good to be able to go out and contribute and help us win games," Jones said. "The offensive line is doing a good job, and our fullback, Tony Richardson, is doing a good job. We just look forward to trying to make progress each week."

Jones had 70 yards on 17 carries in the Jets' 19-10 loss to the Patriots in Week 2. The lingering memory is being stopped on three successive running plays at the Patriot goal line in the second quarter. Later in the third quarter, an interception thrown by Favre set up a New England touchdown that gave the Patriots a 13-3 lead. Mistakes and missed opportunities have haunted the Jets against the Pats.

"Their front five is the strength of their team for the most part," Favre said. "They're stout, good run defenders, very good bull rushers."

Running the ball with success will limit mistakes. But the Patriots aren't the Rams. New England's average of allowing 100 yards rushing per game is deceptive because just one team, the Broncos, has rushed for at least 100 yards against them in the last six games.

"Against a team that can play defense against the run the way the Patriots do, you know Brett Favre is going to have to be a major element in this game if [the Jets are] going to win," Collinsworth said.

No doubt Favre will have to make a number of key throws in the game. But needing the least from Brett will bring out the best of Brett tomorrow night.


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Posted: 3:46 am

November 12, 2008

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Tom Brady is back with his Patriots teammates, laughing and talking with them - and, more importantly, rehabilitating the injured left knee that ended his season in the very first quarter.

"It's good to see him around, hanging out, smiling," New England defensive end Jarvis Green said yesterday. "It looks like he's in a good mood. I just spoke to him a few times, joked with him, but it looks like he's OK."

Brady underwent surgery on Oct. 6 and said on his Web site on Oct. 18 that he had another operation on the knee after it became infected. The Boston Herald reported that he had two more procedures since then to fight an infection.

The star quarterback was back in Foxborough on Nov. 4 and has been working in the Gillette Stadium training room beside teammates.

The Patriots, citing team policy, have not given details of the injury. He was hurt when he was hit by Kansas City's Bernard Pollard in New England's 17-10 win over the Chiefs.

Since then, Matt Cassel has progressed steadily as Brady's replacement. His first pro start came the following Sunday in a 19-10 win over the JetsNew York Jets . The Patriots and Jets, tied for first place in the AFC East at 6-3, play at Foxborough tomorrow night.

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Ty wastes little time laying down LawBY ERIK BOLAND | erik.boland@newsday.com

November 12, 2008

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Ty Law is equally familiar with Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini and his new coach likely would have cringed yesterday when the chatty cornerback started talking about the two coaches' much-publicized rivalry.

"It's been ongoing for a long time and I think it's cool because we always called him Big Bill [belichick] and we had Little Bill, which was Eric," Law said. "They are kind of just like each other and to see those guys go at it, they have some of the same little nuances, tendencies. I sit there and kind of laugh inside because as much as Eric wants to be his own person, which he is - he does things differently - you can still see those little similarities."

The five-time Pro Bowler, who has 52 interceptions in 13 seasons, thought for a quick moment and laughed.

"You don't want to say too much of that to him [Mangini]," he said.

Law, signed Monday by the Jets to help out their defensive backfield, spoke after Mangini had yesterday. But Mangini knew exactly what he was getting, probably the only reason he's comfortable putting a 34-year-old who hasn't played in 11 months on the field tomorrow night against the Patriots.

"I feel good about where he is in terms of his physical shape," Mangini said.

Law, who was signed to play corner but maybe some at safety, too, said he's been working out, but acknowledged a difference in being in shape and in "football" shape.

"I can work out on my worst day, the problem is going out there on the field," Law said. "The conditioning is not a problem, it's going out there covering people, hitting people and just getting that physical contact."

Law played for the Chiefs in 2006 and 2007. He established his reputation as a ballhawk with the Patriots from 1995-2004 and signed a big contract with the Jets in 2005. He made 10 interceptions in his one season in New York and made the Pro Bowl but was swept out the door in a salary-cap move when, coincidentally, Mangini came in before the 2006 season.

But Law didn't take it personally.

"They made me feel good about coming back because I was real close to going elsewhere, but it's a good situation to reunite with Eric," Law said.

His other options were the Browns, coached by former Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, and, of course, the Patriots.

"I spoke with them a few times and it was pretty close," Law said.

Belichick offered a slightly different version, saying he last talked to Law "a couple of months ago," but said the cornerback was still capable.

"We know Ty," Belichick said. "He's very competitive. Good ball skills. You have to be careful throwing around him."

Law, however, said when he's on the field, that's exactly what he expects the Patriots to do.

"I would throw at me, too," Law said. "Hell, I am just coming off [not playing]. They called me old man. Throw at me. That is what any smart coach would do."

Law wore No. 22 at practice yesterday, not his usual No. 24 because that is worn by cornerback Darrelle Revis who, like Law, is from Aliquippa, Pa. Both have had their high school numbers retired by Aliquippa High School. The two are close and Law has been a mentor to Revis.

"To see who he is now and the future All-Pro that I know he is and is going to be, I can't wait to physically be able to help him," Law said. "I call him all the time, 'This guy does this, this guy does that,' as far as giving him every little secret that I have on every receiver that he plays."

Said Revis: "Aliquippa is going nuts right now. I got a whole bunch of calls and text messages [Monday] night. I know it means a lot to him and it means a lot to me."


Jets at New England

8:15 p.m.

TV: Ch. 11, NFL Network

Radio: WEPN (1050), WABC (770), WRCN (103.9)

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Favre vs. Cassel is an INTeresting matchup-Johnette Howard

November 12, 2008


It's unlikely, if you think about it, how the roles of Brett Favre and Matt Cassel are reversed heading into tomorrow night's showdown for first place in the AFC East between the Jets and New England. The Patriots may be forced to ask Cassel, who's made only eight career NFL starts, to win the game for them with his passing, while the Jets may be privately hoping that Favre, their Hall of Fame quarterback, doesn't lose the game for them.

It's the oddest subplot in this game, isn't it? The Jets icon has more boom-or-bust potential than a raw novice like Cassel, who was in mothballs as Tom Brady's understudy the past three years, and backed up Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer at USC before that. Cassel never made a start at either stop until Brady blew out his knee in the Pats' 2008 season opener.

Favre gets a lot of mileage making fun of his ulcer-causing unpredictability. He's constantly reminded that he's got the most touchdown passes and the most interceptions in NFL history. Just Sunday, Favre joked that even with the Jets blowing away the St. Louis Rams 40-0 by the start of the third quarter, some teammates were stridently telling him: "Brett, don't throw the ball. Don't throw it!"

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What they really meant was don't throw an interception or two, don't give the Rams any crazy comeback ideas. And Favre laughed as he told the story. He understands.

The Jets streak into New England having won five of six, and they don't want to do anything to interrupt the roll. Favre, after surging into the NFL interception lead a few weeks back, has actually uttered the M word - as in "managing" the game - the past few weeks. And lo and behold, the Jets have still rung up scads of points and yards.

But the Patriots appear to be even more vulnerable than when they handed the Jets a 19-10 defeat in Week 2. Since then, the Patriots' already questionable secondary lost safety Rodney Harrison. On Monday, they learned star linebacker Adalius Thomas is out with a broken arm. Running back Laurence Maroney is out. The Pats will have to rely on fourth-string running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis against a Jets defense that is fifth-best in the NFL at stopping the run.

Which could force Cassel to go win the game.

Yet all of that feels overshadowed by another story line: Can Favre be the sort of difference-maker against a New England team that has been torturing the Jets forever?

Favre said yesterday that he likes how this game sets up. It fits his nature.

"It's a big opportunity for us, obviously," Favre said. "Short week. No overscheming. No overthinking. Just comes down to execution."

Favre's emotions will play a role, too. If you've ever listened to Favre closely, he doesn't pretend to be some ultra-cool field general. During games, he seems fearless. But at weekly news conferences, it's like he's been put on a shrink's couch.

Favre starts volunteering all the anxieties and doubts that were nagging at him - how concerned he was Sunday when his 39-year-old bones felt every bit their age at the start of the Rams game; how he's walked off the field many a time after one of his momentum-changing interceptions - a bleak day in Minnesota came to his mind most recently - and he thought, "We have no chance now to win this game."

"Did I did tell anybody else that? No," Favre added and smirked. "But that's what I thought."

Favre and the Packers beat the Vikings that day, anyway. But the Jets still are kicking themselves for losing to New England in Week 2, Cassel's first start. The Jets are a more dangerous team now. And that could offset how Cassel has improved individually.

But while every win Cassel gets still feels like gravy, Favre was on the spot yesterday when asked if this was the sort of game he was brought here to win, and specifically the team he was obtained to beat?

"That may be true. Then again, it may not be," Favre answered.

Oh, it's true, all right. Favre doesn't necessarily have to be extra special tomorrow night. The way the rest of the team has been playing, a reasonably good, turnover-free game might be enough.

Funny as it seems, Cassel is probably hearing the same thing.

BRETT FAVRE has a statistical edge on Matt Cassel in most passing categories, but it's not an overwhelming advantage:


194. COMP. 179

282 ATT. 267

68.8 PCT. 67.0

31.3 ATT./GAME 29.7

219.9 YDS./GAME 200.0




21 20(+) YDS. 16

16 SACKED 29

89.8 RATING 83.9

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Sports of The Times

Fighter in Favre Sees Chance for Glory

By HARVEY ARATON- November 11, 2008

Florham Park, N.J.

They are among the oddest of couples, Brett Favre and Eric Mangini, the 39-year-old quarterback and 37-year-old coach, conjoined last summer by pressing need and suddenly peering through a window to the playoffs that has since the start of the season flung wide open.

In front of the Jets is a division of opportunity, a conference of parity and this week a Patriots team still in the good fight against impending mortality. At least Favre, unlike his coach, could admit that Thursday night at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., would be an excellent time for the Jets to smack the Tom Brady-less Pats upside their helmets, deliver the message that they won

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Jets look ahead Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jets (6-3) vs. Patriots (6-3)

Gillette Stadium

Thursday, 8:15 p.m.

TV: Ch. 11, NFL Network

Early line

Patriots by 3

The Jets had been an underdog in 12 straight games against New England, including playoffs, until they were a one-point favorite Sept. 14 at home in New England's first game without the injured Tom Brady. New England won, 19-10, that day. The Patriots have won 13 of their past 15 against the Jets and have covered 11-of-15 during that span.

On the hot seat

The offensive line

The Jets' forward wall still has bad memories of the second-quarter sequence in the first meeting when three Thomas Jones runs after a first-and-goal at the 3 failed to produce a touchdown. A successful night for Jones would provide a chance for Brett Favre to work some play-action.

Game plan

Favre, who was interception-free for the first time since opening day in the Jets' win over St. Louis. must continue to avoid mistakes against the savvy and opportunistic New England defense. Now that the Jets have more of an idea of Matt Cassel's tendencies, they can't allow him to use the short passing game as effectively as he did in the first meeting.

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Jets have Law on their side again

By Adam Kilgore

Globe Staff / November 12, 2008

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Ty Law grabbed his cleats - the number 24 stitched into the tongues, red leather on the sides - and jogged toward the locker room exit. He kneeled to tie his shoes before he headed for his first practice of the season.

"I'm running on fumes," he said.

Law had driven here from Boston Monday night, rolling into the New York Jets training facility shortly after midnight. He met with his new coaches until 2:30 a.m. He slept three hours, then, with no time to waste, reported back to the Jets complex for a hurried, two-day orientation to prepare for playing a marquee NFL game after sitting out more than half the season.

Law could have been preparing for the same game in Foxborough. He officially signed with the Jets yesterday, but his footwear offered a reminder of how close he came to returning to the Patriots, the team with which he spent the first 10 years of his career and won three Super Bowls.

Law, 34, spoke with the Patriots as recently as last week, he said, talks that fol lowed several conversations during the offseason and into the regular season. Law ultimately decided on the Jets out of familiarity and the opportunity to play with cornerback Darrelle Revis, who attended the same high school as Law in Aliquippa, Pa.

"Yeah, I talked to them a few times, and it was pretty close," Law said. "It's always going to be a relationship there with the Patriots organization and the fans. I chose to come here to New York, but I've always loved the Patriots. I'm a Jet right now, and we got to play against them. So right now, they've got to be the enemy."

Asked how close he came to signing with the Patriots, Law held his index finger and thumb centimeters apart, squinted, and said, "That close."

Both Jets coach Eric Mangini and Law expect him to play tomorrow night. No longer the player who made 36 interceptions with the Patriots, the physical, unabashed corner who became one of the best defensive players in franchise history, Law will not be a starter but rather a role player. He'll line up outside, over slot receivers, and perhaps even at safety, Mangini said.

His closeness with Mangini will help him transition quickly, although "Mangini changed up the terminology on me a little bit," Law said, chuckling.

Law played with the Jets for one Pro Bowl season in 2005, then followed coach Herm Edwards to Kansas City and played for the Chiefs for two seasons. They cut him this offseason, leaving Law without a team for the first time since the Patriots drafted him 23d overall in 1995.Continued...

Law received a few offers early in the offseason, which he bypassed, unsure whether he wanted to play and willing to place himself only in a desirable position. Though other teams showed interest, Law considered only the Patriots, Jets, and Cleveland, where former Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennell is now the coach.

"I just got the itch to play real strong a couple weeks ago," Law said. "Just watching them, I said, 'I need to be out there playing football.' "

And as it happens, he'll be facing the Patriots in his first game back. In Foxborough, his former teammates joked about the coincidence. Patriots running back Kevin Faulk said he was happy for Law, "but you can't be that happy." Linebacker Tedy Bruschi planned on watching the opposing defense with more interest than usual.

Defensive end Jarvis Green joked, "Yeah, he's been out for [10] weeks, I don't know, drinking margaritas or whatever he's doing. To be back now against us, I guess that's kind of strange."

The deeper reason behind Law's choice traces back to a city in Western Pennsylvania named Aliquippa, where the high school retired Mike Ditka's number and where "it's like a ghost town on Friday night," Revis said.

Law spoke with Revis once during this offseason. The conversation turned to Law's future. "Before I retire," Law told Revis, "I want us to play together."

Revis first met Law when he was 7 and Law was headed to play at Michigan. They struck up a friendship. Revis wore Law's No. 24 as a tribute. When he was in college at the University of Pittsburgh, Revis worked out with Law. During Revis's rookie year last season, Law called him each week and shared "every little secret I have on every receiver."

They still speak regularly, so Revis didn't flinch when his phone buzzed Monday night and showed a call from Law.

"I'm coming up there," Law said.

"No you ain't," Revis said. "You're lying."

"Yes I am. I'm on my way."

The news broke shortly thereafter, and Revis's phone was flooded with 40 text messages and voice mails from friends and family.

"Aliquippa is going wild," Revis said. "We care about where we come from."

Revis will keep his uniform number, partly at the urging of Law.

"It was important to Ty that Darrelle keep 24," Mangini said.

Law will wear No. 22, his college number.

The addition of Law is well-timed for the Jets because rookie cornerback Dwight Lowery, a fourth-round pick, has struggled lately. It is well-timed for Law - who, Mangini said in understatement, "doesn't lack confidence" - because playing his former team piques his competitive nature.

"Even when I played a whole season, I always had butterflies, I always had that anxiety before a game," Law said. "It's triple right now. I'm excited. I think there's no better time than now."

And what if, Law was asked, the Patriots decide to test his 34-year-old cover skills?

"I look forward to it," Law said. "I would throw at me, too. Hell, I'm just coming off, ain't played football. They call me Old Man. Hell, throw at me. That's what any smart coach would do. I relish the opportunity."

Law's presence, it seems, already has enthused the Jets. When he strolled back into the locker room, "it was like he was running for mayor," Mangini said. Defensive teammates David Bowens and Eric Barton pointed at his shoes and laughed. "Look at those Cadillacs!" they hollered, joking with Law about his large feet. After Law intercepted a pass during an early drill, teammates mobbed him and danced around him.

Law was back with the Jets, fulfilling his hope to play with a hometown friend, adding another layer of intrigue to a rivalry in which, as Law reminded everyone, anything can happen.

"Once I knew Brett Favre came to the Jets," Revis said, "I knew anybody could come in."

Mike Reiss and Christopher L. Gasper of the Globe staff contributed to this report from Foxborough; Adam Kilgore can be reached at akilgore@globe.com

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It's time for New York Jets to send a message

by Steve Politi/The Star-Ledger Tuesday November 11, 2008, 9:10 PM

Associated PressThursday night's game may be the best chance for Jets coach Eric Mangini, left, to get a step up on his mentor turned nemesis Bill Belichick.

Eric Mangini does not believe in statement games. His players do. His fans certainly do. The media? We love them so much, we have about a dozen different names for them.

A showdown. A defining moment. A must win. Or, if you prefer simplicity, a big game. Even Mangini has to acknowledge this trip to New England at least counts as a big game, right.

"I don't think one game ever defines a season," the Jets resident party pooper said Tuesday. "It's the consistency, regardless of (it being a) a division game, a non-division game, or what the opponent's record is. That consistency to me defines a team."

Mangini is more than just being dull this time. He's wrong. All 16 games might count the same in the standings, but they are not created equal. Some are far more important to a team's identity and mentality than others. Some have the potential to catapult a team to bigger things.

The Jets will play one of those games Thursday night in Foxborough. Win it, and they will move one step closer to breaking the chokehold the Patriots have on their division, announcing themselves as a threat to win the AFC. They will show that all those offseason moves were worth it, that bringing Brett Favre here from Green Bay will do more than just sell PSLs.

Lose it, and they are tossed back with six or seven other teams, hunting a wild-card berth. They will have lost 12 of their last 13 games to their tormentors, including one without injured Patriot stars Tom Brady, Rodney Harrison, Adalius Thomas and several others. Bill Belichick might have to play safety in the nickel defense, that's how bad it is in New England.

Seriously, if the Jets are not going to beat this team now, then when? This would not be just another loss. This would be a killer loss, a same-old-Jets loss, and it would cast a pall on the remainder of the season. They might recover, but they will have wasted an opportunity bigger than Kris Jenkins' waist line.

"Until we beat these guys, or until anyone beats these guys and knocks them off from the top, then they're always going to be the team to beat," Favre said Tuesday. "We know that. ... It's a big opportunity, obviously. I think every one of our guys are aware of that."

That the head coach will not admit this is either admirable or infuriating, depending on your perspective. He would make a great White House press secretary -- he never wavers from the message. But he has to know it's true. He has to see what his quarterback sees.

Two years ago Wednesday, Mangini was a first-year coach who was still mostly an unknown to Jets fans. He took their team to New England and left with a season-defining victory and an icy handshake from his former mentor.

He never gets a table at Artie Bucco's place in "The Sopranos" without that win, never has Bucco christen him "Mangenius." The Week 6 victory against the Dolphins didn't get him there. Beating the Patriots did. Beating Belichick. The Jets were convinced they had one of the bright young coaches in football -- who knows, maybe time will show they still do.

But he is 15-18 since that win, with no signature victory and four losses to you-know-who. The Patriots have made all the statements since then, starting with the 37-16 beatdown in the playoffs two seasons ago. The Jets were supposed to have closed the gap on their rivals last season, but the Pats drubbed them again in the season opener on their way to 16-0. Sorry, but "Spygate" does not count as a victory, as satisfying as that may have been for Jets fans.

Most recently, the Patriots beat the new-look Jets again in Week 2, this time with a career backup quarterback. Losing to Brady twice in a season is one thing. Losing twice to Matt Cassel -- and doing it with Brett Favre on your side -- is something else entirely, and it isn't good.

Mangini needs this one. His job is secure, but his reputation is on shaky ground. A convincing victory Thursday night would show that his Jets have a chance to accomplish something big in his third season, while forcing his nemesis to start thinking about the wild card.

Some people might even call that a statement, even if the head party pooper won't.


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