Rex Ryan: 'We know it's a big game'

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Rex Ryan offered his take on how things will shake down Sunday against the Patriots.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan generally isn’t one to utter clichés, such as taking it one game at a time, or saying that all games are equally important.

So Ryan wanted to make sure everyone knows that he and his team realize the importance of Sunday’s key AFC East matchup that will be hosted by the Jets Sunday night.

Each team is 5-3 and tied with the Buffalo Bills atop the division. They are trending, though, in opposite directions. The Jets have won three straight since absorbing a 30-21 beating in Foxborough on Oct. 9. New England, meanwhile, has dropped two in a row and is in danger of losing three straight for the first time since 2002.

Without prompting, at the close of his conference call with the New England media on Wednesday, Ryan offered his take on the meeting between the rivals.

“The thing about the game is that both teams will be ready, no doubt,” said Ryan. “We’re not saying anything different. We know it’s a big game and that both teams will be ready.”

Otherwise, there was no billboard material being spewed by the generally chatty and sometimes outrageous coach.

He played nice in his 15-minute chat, touching on the Pats’ defense (which couldn't stop the Giants on a late-game, 80-yard march in last week's loss) and the 10 interceptions thrown by Tom Brady (only four thrown last season).

“The defense is playing better against the run. That one drive obviously happened at the end of the game but I thought their defense was pretty good,” Ryan said.

“The streak (Brady) had last year, I don’t think that’s going to be duplicated,” Ryan added. “Interceptions happen. Sometimes balls are tipped, sometimes you make a read and try to stick the ball in there and the guy makes a great play. You can do a lot worse than having Tom Brady as your quarterback.”

Tight end Rob Gronkowski and receiver Wes Welker also came in for a few compliments from Ryan.

The key to the game, said Ryan, is turnovers. Generally whichever team makes more, loses. Last week, the Patriots were guilty of four turnovers in their 24-20 loss to the Giants.

“You can’t turn the ball over and expect to beat a team like New England,” Ryan said. “You still have to be aggressive, but the No. 1 thing you have to do is protect the ball.”

Ryan’s conference call had a few light moments, such as when he suggested the Jets would pick up Gronkowski’s brother, Dan, also a tight end, who was released by the Patriots a few days ago so New York could “pick his brain” about New England’s offense.

This time around, the Jets are the early favorites to win the game, a fact that earned a shrug from Ryan.

“I’m not betting on the game, so I don’t care what the spread is,” Ryan said. “I don’t care if we’re favorites or 50-point underdogs. We’re trying to find a way to win every game.”