Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets will travel to Gillette Stadium to take on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Sunday. Join Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan as they preview this AFC East showdown. Watch the game on CBS at 4:15 PM ET.
Posted by Ryan Wilson
To quote Uncle Ben in Spider-Man: "With great power comes great responsibility." In Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's case, his power comes in the form of winging touchdown passes, which is responsible for a lot of animosity from around the league, notably from players who have been victimized by skills.
Earlier in the week, Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said that he loves hitting Brady "because he always complains." Ngata's teammate, Terrell Suggs, also has a history with the Pats' golden-haired savior.
On Sunday, the Patriots host the Jets and -- you guessed it -- there are players on that defense who aren't particularly fond of Brady. The most vocal critic this week is cornerback Antonio Cromartie who, it turns out, was the most vocal critic prior to last season's matchups, too.
“I’ll never change how I feel about Tom Brady and what I said last year,” Cromartie said in the days leading up to Sunday's AFC East game. “Do I respect him? Yes. He has three football rings. But other than that, when we’re on the football field, I don’t really give a damn.”
Cromartie seemed unconcerned when he was asked if he thought Brady might now go after him. "I hope I'm a target this game. I want to be a target every game.”
New England, as a whole, isn't saying jack.
"You ain't going to hear nothing from us, that's for damn sure," a veteran player told the New York Post under his breath Wednesday. "Boss' orders." More from the Post:
Chad Ochocinco -- one of the most opinionated and flamboyant players in the sport -- hasn't showed his face to the media during the daily media sessions while conveniently claiming a lost bet is keeping him off Twitter for the rest of the month.Belichick was his usual laconic, expressionless self when asked about facing the Jets, a team that beat New England twice last season, including the playoffs. "We try to focus on what we need to do to beat the Jets," he said when asked if he had issued a gag order. "That's what we're here for. I mean, what else is there to talk about?"
Wes Welker, so famously benched in the playoff loss for mocking Rex Ryan's alleged foot fetish, also has been a ghost to reporters this week. The same goes for fellow wide receiver Deion Branch.
But perhaps the best example of the Patriots' steely focus heading into this weekend's matchup at Gillette Stadium was normally light-hearted Tom Brady gritting his teeth through a news conference Wednesday that he stormed out of after just five minutes due to one too many questions about Antonio Cromartie.
Oh, we don't know, Brady's newly trimmed wig, perhaps? (Wait, what?)
Yep, you heard us. Every other angle has been analyzed heading into this game. We might as well consider the possible ramifications of Brady's hair on the Pats' hopes and dreams in 2011. (You think we're kidding.)
Thanks to David Fung, we have graphical evidence showing the relationship between Brady's coiffure du jour and his postseason record. You're welcome.
You can see more of Fung's work on his blog, FunGraphs, and follow him on Twitter (@CobraDave).
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