|Antonio Cromartie of the Jets races down the sideline for 23 yards after scooping up the Patriots’ first onside kick. (Bill Greene/Globe Staff)|
Cromartie delivers a statement game
FOXBOROUGH — Perhaps Antonio Cromartie learned his lesson. Or perhaps the cornerback just really doesn’t like Tom Brady.
Because when asked yesterday about his team’s next opposing quarterback, the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger, Cromartie only would say, “He’s a great guy. He’s a guy that can move outside the pocket and be accurate outside the pocket. He’s a tough guy.
“I love Ben, man. Ben’s a competitor, man.’’
That wasn’t the case this past week, when Cromartie called Brady an expletive, said he hated him, and complained about his finger-pointing at the Jets’ sideline in their previous meeting.
The pair apparently didn’t exchange pleasantries during yesterday’s game, with Cromartie saying, “Nothing was said.’’
“That was my thoughts,’’ Cromartie said of his earlier comments about Brady. “Game is over. Moved on. Getting ready for Pittsburgh now. That’s how I feel about the whole situation.
“Everybody said that he was unstoppable, but our whole thing was to go out and just do the things that we needed to do and at the end of the day, play like a Jet.’’
Cromartie added, “Our whole thing is to always be ourselves. Either people are going to like it or not. Rex [Ryan] is always about guys being themselves, being loose and just going out and having fun. That’s the motto that he has throughout the whole organization. Our whole thing is just to go out and have fun and do the things that we know how to do, and just play at a high level.’’
And the cornerback got support yesterday for his decision to talk, and for his play on the field. As defensive end Shaun Ellis said, “It happens, if you watch the tape. [Brady] did do a lot of taunting.’’
“Cromartie, backing up everything he said,’’ quarterback Mark Sanchez said. “That’s never my strategy or policy to come out and say something like that. But if you do, you better back it up, and he sure did tonight.’’
Not that, even after the game, Cromartie was backing off those comments.
“My feelings haven’t changed,’’ he said.
Emotional words Dennis Byrd, the former Jets defensive lineman who was paralyzed when his neck was broken in a 1992 game with Kansas City, returned to make an emotional speech to the players Saturday night at the team hotel.
“It was priceless,’’ Byrd said of their reaction to his comments. “When I was speaking to them initially, they were so quiet I was a little nervous that this was falling flat, that this wasn’t working.’’
Byrd, who recovered from his injury to walk again, last week sent to Ryan the game jersey that had been cut off him after his injury, said that his meeting with the players was “one of those priceless moments, a convergence of many things for this organization, the things that I’ve been through in life.’’
Said Ryan, “He’s a Jet, and he’ll always be a Jet.’’
Gracious in defeat Bill Belichick gave his sincere congratulations to Ryan, and there was a similar exchange between Patriots owner Robert Kraft and the Jets’ Woody Johnson. “He just said, ‘You outplayed us today,’ ’’ said Johnson, who was sporting a Jets cap in the visiting locker room. “He wished me well and said, ‘I hope you go all the way.’ That was very nice and gracious and I really appreciate that.’’ . . . Though the Jets buried a game ball after the horrific beating they took here in December, they didn’t bury their feelings of humiliation and anger against the Patriots. “We just felt like we were totally disrespected the last time,’’ said Ellis. “Granted, they ran the score up on us, Brady with his emotions. They were doing our Jet run on certain plays. Going into this game we just wanted to get them back.’’