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Jets’ Ryan feels it’s best to let it play out

Rex Ryan’s Jets are riding a four-game winning streak. Rex Ryan’s Jets are riding a four-game winning streak. (Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / November 27, 2010

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Jets coach Rex Ryan has confidence in his team, and doesn’t have a problem telling anyone who will listen. He will not have trouble finding an audience in the days leading up to the game against the Patriots Dec. 6.

Ryan rarely disappoints when it comes to entertaining news conferences, but he didn’t spark any fires with yesterday’s comments. The Jets are coming off of a 26-10 win over the Bengals Thursday, their fourth straight victory.

For anyone calling the Patriots the best team in the league, Ryan said the compliment may be out of respect, but the test is to come.

“They earned that, but we have the same record and we beat them once,’’ Ryan said. “I don’t know if we’re looked at in that light or whatever, but you know, that’s OK. The great thing is we get to prove it on ‘Monday Night Football’ in their place. We’ll see. I know I feel confident with that football team. I know everybody in our locker room believes we’ll win.

“We know what New England represents, how good a football team they are, how well coached they are, all that kind of stuff. But again, as much as we respect them, we also think we can beat them. I think we proved that this year. We’ll see. This is going to be a heck of a game.’’

Ryan said he watched some of the Patriots-Lions game Thursday.

“Obviously, they’re playing great,’’ he said. “They’re making big plays on defense, but their offense, that’s where you start with. They seemed at times, almost looked like they were unstoppable. I’m pretty confident where our team is right now. We’ve got the exact same record. There’s a reason why both our teams are 9-2 and tied for the best record in football. Again, we’re going down there and we’ll see what happens. I know it’s going to be a huge challenge, but our guys, I think, are looking forward to the challenge.’’

Sign of respect Danny Woodhead didn’t stick with the Jets, but Ryan understands how the running back has made an impact in New England. The Jets waived Woodhead in September and in less than a week the Patriots signed him. He recently signed a contract extension through 2012.

“He’s been great for them,’’ Ryan said. “He really fits their system. It’s amazing. Kevin Faulk, he’s done a great job in that role, running the ball with them.

“I’ve got a ton of respect for Danny Woodhead. I always thought that he’s a terrific player. I think the guy, the main guy you’ve got to game plan for, is Tom Brady. Brady’s doing a great job. He’s smart. He’ll throw it to open receivers. We’ve got to do a great job of stopping all of their weapons, but Woodhead clearly is doing a great job, running the ball also.’’

It will be the first chance for Woodhead to face his former team. The Patriots picked him up the day before they played the Jets in Week 2, but Woodhead did not play.

Snap to it Vince Wilfork is showing his versatility this season as a nose tackle and defensive end, but he is also displaying his endurance. Wilfork played 64 of 73 defensive snaps against the Colts last week, which was a season high. He played 85.5 percent of the defensive snaps against the Jets in the first meeting.

Against the Lions Thursday, Wilfork played fewer snaps, but still played a crucial role.

“I give what I have,’’ Wilfork said. “Last week, I don’t know why people make a big deal out of it, the snaps I played. I’ve played a bunch in my career. There have been games where I didn’t come off the field. So I’m used to something like that.

“Sometimes I play a lot, sometimes I play in situations, sometimes I’m just here. You never know, but my thing is, when my number is called, I want to make sure that I’m ready to go. So last week you saw me out there a lot, this time with the short week and everything just moving guys around just making sure we have enough in our tank so guys won’t go down. I think it played out very well for us. We got out healthy and that was the key.’’

Sneaky move? Lions quarterback Shaun Hill called out New England’s defense following Thursday’s game, saying he believed a Patriot tried to further injure his broken left forearm in a pile in the second quarter.

Facing fourth and 1 from the Patriots’ 2-yard line, the Lions called for a quarterback sneak. Hill dived forward and picked up the first down, but while in the pile he said he could feel someone tugging at his non-throwing arm. Hill dropped the ball, but was already ruled down. In October, Hill broke the arm in a game against the Giants.

“That’s why I eventually gave up the ball,’’ Hill told Michigan website mlive.com. “Somebody was down there literally trying to break my arm, which is already broken. Literally trying. And, uh, you know, I guess it wasn’t seen [by the officials].’’

Asking a quarterback with a broken arm to dive into a pile may have been a risky call, but Hill said he didn’t mind.

“I loved the call,’’ he said. “Absolutely loved it. I have no qualms about running that play, one-armed or whatever.’’

Drawing a crowd The Patriots-Lions game on CBS earned an overnight rating/share of 15.0/35 to become the highest-rated Thanksgiving Day game in metered markets since Minnesota-Dallas played on Fox in 1998. The ratings were up 19 percent over last year’s Oakland-Dallas matchup on CBS.

Greg A. Bedard of the Globe staff contributed to this report; Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.

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