EAST RUTHERFORD and FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The war of words between the New York Jets and New York Giants continued on Wednesday as Rex Ryan's comments about the Jets being the better team continues to fuel the cross-town rivalry.
"I just say, regardless of the talk, it will be decided at one o'clock Saturday afternoon," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said in his Wednesday press conference. "Regardless of what is said. Talk is cheap, play the game. That is the way I've always believed."
Coughlin was repeating one of his longtime mantras. But, of course, Ryan responded.
"That's the old saying, 'Talk is cheap, money buys whiskey,'" Ryan said at Jets practice. "I understand all that and that's the truth. But I don't care about Tom Coughlin or anybody else. I know how I believe. I don't care what's acceptable in everybody's opinion. I really don't care. I'm worried about my opinion and this is how I feel. Quite honestly, I don't care what anybody thinks."
The Jets (8-6) and Giants (7-7) face each other in a crucial game on Saturday with a lot more than bragging rights at stake. Both teams are fighting for a playoff spot in their respective conferences and are basically entrenched in must-win situations. The two teams have met 11 times during the regular season with the Giants winning seven of them. But this will be the most important regular-season meeting between the two franchises with playoff survival on the line.
Ryan, though, has made this a lot about winning New York and being the better pro football team in the area. The outspoken head coach has said that the Jets are not the Giants' little brother and stated on Monday that his team is the better team.
Giants running back Brandon Jacobs said it's going to take a lot more than one regular-season victory over the Giants to make this a Jets town.
"They are going to need a hell of a lot more than this game to make that happen," Jacobs said. "We are looking to get into the playoffs and they are looking to get into the playoffs and that is all we are looking at as. As far as New York and the other talk, we are trying to get to the playoffs and make noise from there."
Jacobs, who often feeds off trash talk from opponents, didn't mind Ryan's boasts one bit, saying the Jets coach has to do what he feels is best for his team. When someone talks trash, Jacobs feels sometimes that person is trying to compensate for something.
"I think they are trying to fulfill something, put something in people that may not be there," Jacobs said. "Sometimes I talk, I say things, well maybe this won't happen but I am going to make myself believe it."
"It doesn't really upset me," Jacobs added. "Like I said, he is trying to put something in people's minds that may not really be there."
Jets players are behind their coach and his bold statements.
Safety Eric Smith said: "We enjoy it. We read the quotes afterward and enjoy it. We have no problem with it. ... Nothing is surprising that comes out of Rex's mouth."
Wide receiver Santonio Holmes said: "I'm going to ride with my coach all day. Whatever he talks about, we're going to back him up. I'm pretty sure we're going to have our coach's back."
Both teams started the week off by stating that they felt they were the better team. After Ryan fired the first shot, Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka answered back by saying, "I know we're the better team. We just have to go out there and prove it."
Giants defensive end Justin Tuck then said on his weekly radio appearance on WFAN on Monday that "there is kind of bad blood between the two" teams and that he is looking forward to winning "in our stadium" even though the Jets will be the home team in MetLife Stadium, which both teams share.
"[Ryan] has made the Jets relevant again," Tuck continued. "But we still feel as though we got the best team. Like he said, you get an opportunity to prove it on Saturday. But the best trash talker is not going to win the game. My goal is to get the Giants to have more points and have Giants fans leaving the parking lot happy and Jets fans leaving sad."
LaDainian Tomlinson called Ryan "passionate."
"Different people have ways of approaching the game where they need to get pumped up for the game and whatever they need for that particular game," Tomlinson said. "So, that's the way Rex has always been. That kind of rubs off on us. But yeah, sometimes it does give the other team motivation to come in and beat us, and whatever. But at the same time, this team needs that from Rex. We've got a lot of young guys coming from college and need that type of leadership."
While Coughlin wants his team to steer clear of the war of words, he also admits that he might take advantage of it by using all the Jets' comments as motivation.
"Perhaps," Coughlin said.
But the Giants know that there should be no greater motivation than knowing that a win this weekend and a victory over the Cowboys at home next week will clinch the NFC East and a playoff berth.
"It's not what's said before the game," quarterback Eli Manning said. "Everything will be decided on Saturday. That's the mindset around here. It's going to come down to how we perform on the playing field."
Jets lineman Brandon Moore knows that talking trash ups the ante.
"Teams are going to bring their A game every week," he said. "That's just the way it is when you do a lot of talking. They want to hurt the Jets, and hurt them bad."
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants and Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.