FOXBORO (AP) – Antonio Cromartie made it clear he couldn’t stand Tom Brady.
Brady certainly won’t be too fond of the New York Jets cornerback after this one.
Following a week of talking that turned nasty, Cromartie and the Jets’ defense shut up in time to shut down the New England Patriots and their star quarterback in a 28-21 victory Sunday night that sent New York to the AFC championship game for the second straight season.
Coach Rex Ryan said this week would be different from the Jets’ last visit to Gillette Stadium, an embarrassing 45-3 shellacking.
Ryan was right. And it was his defense, his pride and joy, that got the job done.
The Jets swarmed Brady all game, pressuring and frustrating him with five sacks and picking him off once — his first interception since Week 6. Cromartie, Darrelle Revis and the rest of the defense also kept the Patriots from making many big plays.
Cromartie then sealed the victory by recovering the Patriots’ onside kick after New England made it 21-14 and returning it to the 25. He then put his finger up to his lip as if to shush the already-silent Gillette Stadium crowd.
Two plays later, Shonn Greene scored on a 16-yard touchdown run.
Ryan kicked things off the previous week when he praised Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning, saying no one studies like him, even though Brady thinks he does. Then, Ryan said Monday that this game against the Patriots was “personal” between him and Bill Belichick.
Cromartie took things to another level of nastiness when he called Brady an expletive, while he and his coach accused the Patriots quarterback of showboating and pointing at their sideline after a late touchdown. When asked if he regretted his comments, a defiant Cromartie said no way.
Brady brushed off the comments, but they might sting a whole lot more now that he’s going home after the Patriots’ first playoff game for the second straight season.
The numbers looked respectable: Brady threw for 299 yards and the offense rolled up 372 yards and had 26 first downs. But the Jets made big plays when it counted most — something they were unable to do in the last matchup with the Patriots.
New York held New England to 5 of 14 on third downs, and 0 for 2 on fourth down, pushing Brady and the offense off the field.
Shaun Ellis sacked Brady twice, David Harris had nine tackles and a tone-setting early interception while Cromartie and Revis blanketed the Patriots’ wide receivers and prevented them from being major factors in the game.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)