Jets-Pats mind game is good to last embrace

January 08, 2007|By PETER SCHMUCK

Lovable New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick angrily pushed aside a photographer to get to New York Jets coach Eric Mangini after yesterday's 37-16 playoff victory at Gillette Stadium, then gave his former protege an exaggerated hug at midfield.

Maybe the severed horse head will be delivered later.

Much has been made of the chilly relationship that developed between the two coaches after Mangini left the Patriots to turn around the struggling Jets' franchise. So, it was no surprise that the first half of this playoff showdown quickly turned into a mind game.

Tom Brady rushed a snap in the first quarter to catch the Jets in the middle of a defensive substitution. Mangini sent in a trick punt formation a few minutes later to force Belichick to burn a timeout. Both quarterbacks pulled quick snaps and ran no-huddle plays throughout the game, which was very competitive until the Patriots broke it open with a couple of late touchdowns.

No doubt, the friction between Mangini and Belichick has been blown well out of proportion, but everything's big in the NFL in January, which explains why dozens of still photographers and cameramen swarmed around the two coaches for what normally is a perfunctory post-game handshake.

Big night

I've never cared much for Ohio State, but - in deference to former Baltimore Colt and current Ravens broadcaster Stan White - I'm going to put my petty anti-Big Ten feelings aside tonight when the Buckeyes face Florida for the Bowl Championship Series title in Glendale, Ariz.

Stan's son, Stan Jr., plays for Ohio State and has a chance to bring home the family's third national championship. Stan Sr. won a pair of them in 1968 and 1970 at OSU.

I've finally forgiven Stan for playing on the 1968 OSU team that beat No. 2 Southern California in the Rose Bowl to win the title. Was hoping for some next-generation revenge this year, but UCLA spoiled everything.

Going home

The Arizona Diamondbacks have worked out a $26 million contract extension with pitcher Randy Johnson, clearing the way to finalize a deal to re-acquire him from the New York Yankees.

Johnson will be going home, and the Yankees aren't going to miss his high-strung personality and his lack of success in the postseason, even though he won 17 regular-season games in each of his two seasons in New York.

The back-page headline in Friday's New York Post:

Good Riddance!

Colts buck trend

There's going to be a lot of discussion this week about the rejuvenated run defense of the Indianapolis Colts, but I don't think there's any reason to overreact to its ability to stop Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson.

It actually was the Chiefs' inability to adjust that was their undoing - that and the fact that they were a marginal playoff team to begin with. The Colts-Ravens showdown was always going to be about the Ravens' top-ranked defense against the Colts' explosive attack. Nothing has changed.

Dysfunction junction

The NFL's cult of personality sometimes overshadows the action on the field, but it's still hard to believe the seemingly intertwined futures of Cowboys coach Bill Parcells and receiver Terrell Owens were a hot topic of conversation after a playoff loss Saturday that didn't put a spotlight on any of the team's outsized egos.

Dallas owner Jerry Jones said after the game that he wants both Parcells and Owens back next year, which is almost as curious as the timing of his comments. Why would he want to replicate the dysfunction that may have kept the Cowboys from evolving into more than a one-round playoff wonder this year?

In a related development, Owens was too busy questioning the offensive game plan to notice.

T.O.'s worst nightmare

Don't know about you, but it does my heart good to know that T.O. will be watching on television while one of the victims of his runaway mouth will be leading the Philadelphia Eagles into the divisional round of the playoffs. Just makes the feel-good Jeff Garcia story feel that much better.

Hardheaded man

Jeremy Shockey is one tough hombre, which isn't exactly breaking news but became even more obvious yesterday when he lost his helmet on a play and then put his head down to fight for 3 more yards.

Warning: Stunt professional. Don't try this at home.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

The Peter Schmuck Show airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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