Rex Ryan got pretty defensive towards reporters after morning talk radio shows were inundated with fans calling to say that his New York Jets offense played "scared" and way too conservative late in the 29-26 overtime loss to the New England Patriots.
The Jets head coach bristled at even the suggestion that his team was spooked by ghosts of New England past.
"That's not even close ," Ryan said. "Saying we played scared is somebody who has probably never played the game in his life. I mean, that's a ridiculous comment because that's certainly not what we do. Everything we do is to play to win the game."
Ryan had a lot of reasons to be defiant even though the play calling throughout the game was pretty shaky — despite quarterback Mark Sanchez having an "outstanding" day, according to his coach.
"If you lose, people have the right to any opinion they want, but to say we were scared, that's not even close to being accurate," added Ryan.
The final two minutes of the game drew the most screams from Ryan's critics. One series in particular had Jets fans saying boo.
After recovering a fumble by Patriots kick returner Devin McCourty, at the Pat's 18 with 2:01 left in regulation of a tie game, the Jets opted on running the ball twice, then attempting a pass on third down. Sanchez's target, Jeremy Kerley slipped and the Jets quarterback took a sack to force a New England timeout.
"When you look at it, we had some success running the ball in the previous series," explained Ryan. "We knew we needed a first down. We were trying to get a first down. It wasn't like we were trying to burn their timeouts. We were trying to get a first down to win the game. To their credit, they made some plays."
After kicking a field goal to take the lead, the Patriots, led by Tom Brady, marched 54 yards on six plays to tie the game.
Gang Green fans reason that, by not going for the end zone, Ryan showed little trust in the abilities of his starting quarterback.
"I have faith that you can put into Sanchez's hands," said Ryan. "I also have faith that we can put it in our running game."
Ryan pointed to how far the team has come from the 34-0 shellacking by the San Francisco 49ers three weeks ago to coming so close to a win in hostile Gillette Stadium.
"I know we're a better team," he said. "We're making strides. It's not by luck or anything else. It's by design."
I still hear whistling by the graveyard for some reason.