FOXBOROUGH - It had to feel good.
Bill Belichick’s never going to admit this, but there is a healthy obsession with the Jets at Gillette Stadium and it’s a great day any time you can pin a loss on the donkeys from New York.
You saw a little of this truth when NFL Films wired Bill throughout the 2009 season. The friendly folks from the house network somehow managed to come away with nothing on the Richard Seymour trade or the infamous Late Gate episode, but they did catch Bill gloating a little when he walked out of the office and said it was a “good day’’ because the Patriots beat the Titans and the Jets lost to the Bills .
There hasn’t been a lot of self-satisfaction inside the walls of Patriot Place since Rex Ryan and the Jets exited Gillette with a 28-21 (not as close as it looked) playoff win last January. New York’s shocking postseason win totally negated all the good feeling from a 14-2 season, including New England’s 45-3 victory over the Jets a few weeks earlier.
Patriots fans are sick of Ryan and the Jets. Tom Brady and Wes Welker are sick of Ryan and the Jets. The Krafts are sick of Ryan and the Jets.
But no one hates hearing about the Jets more than Belichick. When you are the new Lombardi, the greatest coach of the modern era, it’s no fun hearing that Rex Ryan has beaten you three times in five (now six) meetings. It no fun reading that while you have failed to win a playoff game since the 2007 AFC Championship Game, the Jets under Ryan have won four playoff games, all on the road.
So it was satisfying to spank the Jets, 30-21, yesterday at Gillette. There was none of the dominance of December, and the Patriots still look like a flawed 4-1 team, but losing to the Jets would have made things unbearable around here. Lord knows the local baseball team last month supplied us with enough unbearable for the rest of the decade.
Belichick had the hot hand all afternoon/evening against the Jets. When he challenged a Deion Branch fumble, he won the protest and the Patriots got the ball back and scored a touchdown. When he challenged a Plaxico Burress catch, he won again, and a 22-yard gain was negated.
With 3:43 left and the Patriots clinging to a 6-point lead, Belichick called a timeout, then ordered a direct snap to BenJarvis Green-Ellis on third and 4 from the Jets 46. Benny went for 14 yards and the game was effectively over.
Just win, baby. It was an homage to the late, great Al Davis, who died on Saturday. Let’s never forget that Davis was on the losing end of the tuck rule call that changed NFL history here 10 years ago. The Adam Vinatieri Snow Bowl turned out to be the last game in the history of old Foxboro Stadium and it launched the legacies of Belichick and Brady.
On most given Sundays when the Patriots win, Belichick is tempered and Brady is Mr. Sunshine. Not yesterday. Belichick seemed oddly satisfied, while Brady was Mr. Grump.
“It’s good to come in here after a win against the Jets, it always is,’’ began the coach. “I’m really proud of our team.’’
This may not qualify as Pat O’Brien reciting the Knute Rockne speech, or Al Pacino frothing at the mouth in “Any Given Sunday,’’ but it’s a lot for Coach Bill.
He was positively verbose. He spoke of “one of our good weeks of practice’’ (a good week of practice beats a royal flush with an NFL coach), and “a good solid job all the way around.’’ He said, “It’s always physical against the Jets. This is a good team win. I think everybody feels good about it.’’
And then he dropped the summa cum laude of coachspeak.
“Everybody did their job.’’
Wow. In a world in which Do Your Job is more important than Honor Thy Father, Teach Your Children, or Brush Your Teeth, Belichick was handing out the shiniest of gold stars.
The Patriots beat the Jets. Belichick beat Rex Ryan. And everybody did their jobs.
There was less satisfaction from the quarterback. Brady clearly was upset with points left on the field.
“I thought we could have done better offensively,’’ he said repeatedly.
He even did a nifty impersonation of the typical Belichick when he was asked about other teams raising their game to play the Patriots.
“Whoever we play, we’re expecting to go out there and rise up to them also. Every opponent is dangerous. We’re going to go out there to play our best every week.’’
Yeesh. Can’t a guy just admit that it’s fun to beat the Jets? Any time? Every time? Even Bill gave us that one yesterday.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.