FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan's mouth strikes again.
The New York Jets coach apologized Monday for cursing out a heckler at halftime of Sunday night's embarrassing 37-16 loss to the New England Patriots. Ryan could be subject to discipline from the NFL, which confirmed that it's investigating the incident.
Ryan's brief exchange with the fan was caught on video and was making the rounds Monday on the Internet.
"Hey, Rex, Belichick is better than you," the fan screamed to Ryan, who was walking off the field and into the locker room tunnel with the rest of the team at MetLife Stadium.
"Shut the f--- up," Ryan yelled back to the fan, who isn't seen in the video.
Ryan could be fined by the league.
"We'll take a look at it, but don't want to speculate on any outcome," a league spokesman said
Because it was a game-related incident, any discipline would be handled by the league, not the team, according to a Jets spokesman.
"Rex and I have talked about it," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said in a statement. "Obviously, he let his emotions get the best of him. He knows his behavior was not acceptable."
It was originally reported that the incident happened after the game, but Ryan said it was a particular play before the half that set him off.
He said he was livid when quarterback Mark Sanchez called a timeout with at least 17 seconds remaining on the play clock before a third-down play at the Patriots' 2; he should've let the play clock wind down to one second before calling the timeout.
The clock-management gaffe proved costly, as Tom Brady rallied the Patriots to a go-ahead touchdown in the final seconds.
"I was emotional, it was an emotional time," Ryan said. "I obviously made a mistake. I was full of emotion and just popped off. Obviously, I know I represent the National Football League, I know I represent the Jets, and I know it was a mistake. I apologize for it.
"This is who I am ... I'm about as big a competitor as there is and, at that time, I was in no mood to hear anything, but I also understand I have to handle that better."
In January, 2009, Ryan was fined $50,000 by the Jets for making an obscene gesture toward a fan at a martial arts event in the Miami area. That incident was caught on a cell phone camera. At the time, Ryan vowed to clean up his act.
"I make mistakes all the time, I'm not perfect by any stretch," he said. "I try to get better, but sometimes my emotions get the best of me."
On Sunday night, Ryan's temper flared on at least two occasions. After the mishandled timeout, Ryan was visibly upset on the sideline, and told NBC sideline reporter Michele Tafoya at halftime that the timeout was "the stupidest thing in football history."
On Monday, however, Ryan didn't want to place all the blame for that timeout on his quarterback.
"I was basically saying (that) about myself," Ryan said, "and when I talked about the emotion that I was feeling, I am still feeling that obviously."
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, Ryan and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh had a conversation via headsets about when to take a time out, and concluded to do it after more time was gone. Sanchez is only connected to Schottenheimer via headset, but he overheard the part of the conversation about taking a timeout.
"What my understanding is," Ryan said. "I went over to Brian, because Brian was going to make the call and I said no it's take the clock down, and use all the clock and then call a timeout. Matt Cavanaugh said, 'What's going on? Are we going to take a timeout?' We said yes. I think that's what happened there. You have to ask Mark, but I think that's what he heard is we are going to take a timeout."
Sanchez does not make himself available on Monday, however, so the question could not be posed. Ryan also made it clear that Schottenheimer wasn't suggesting the Jets take an early timeout, but that the coaches were clarifying the plan.
"He physically called the timeout, but my communication wasn't clear enough to Mark which is why it was my mistake," Ryan said.
Last season the Jets had headset trouble in the playoffs, when Sanchez' headset stopped working in a loss to the Steelers.
Ryan's counterpart, Bill Belichick, also reportedly used profanity after Sunday night's game, but Belichick said he didn't recall using a vulgar phrase
while coming off the field after the game. The New York Post
reported that Belichick had his arm around his son, Stephen, when
he made the remark regarding the Jets' defense.
Belichick said at his regular Monday news conference that "I don't remember it that way. I don't think we're here to talk about that. If you want to talk about the game, great."
The league won't investigate that because it was in a private conversation, the spokesman said.
Ryan said he wasn't bothered by Belichick's remark. He joked that he told his son the same thing after the Jets beat the Patriots' top-ranked offense last January in the playoffs.
"I don't take offense to it," said Ryan. "I've got no problem with that."
Joking, Ryan also added, "It's something I'll bring up to him after we beat them in the playoffs again this year."
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Jane McManus and The Associated Press was used in this report.