On Tuesday, Jets head coach Rex Ryan summoned Jets fans throughout the tristate area to come out in full force for Sunday's vital divisional matchup against the rival New England Patriots.
"Just like they were for us that first week, we need them again at their best," Ryan said. "When two teams are evenly matched, sometimes that homefield advantage makes a difference. Last year, the second week of the season, our home crowd made the difference, in my opinion. I need a great effort. I'm calling out to the fans. We need a great effort. They're going to get our full effort for sure, I can promise you that."
In Monday night's home opener against the Baltimore Ravens, the raucous crowd of 78,127 that filled the seats of the first regular-season night game at New Meadowlands Stadium oozed emotion, sweat, tears and passion. It was a display that impressed Jets players and could be the beginnings of a crowd that makes a crucial impact at home games for a long time to come.
"That's something that is a great advantage of ours," safety James Ihedigbo said. "We know our fans are going to be there no matter what and they're an intense part of the game. Every time we walk on the field as a defense, besides the air siren going on, it's some of the loudest noise you can ever hear. We thrive off of that on defense. It allows us to play more aggressive and make big plays knowing that they have our backs and are cheering loud for us."
Defensive end Shaun Ellis described all the ways that the Jets' "12th Man" can bother a visiting offense, from making audibles difficult to coordinate to causing offensive linemen to jump offsides and producing protection breakdowns.
One who knows all about the Jets defense and how they take advantage of any offensive errors is Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has been sacked eight times by Ellis during his career. On Wednesday, Brady called out his own fans for being lackluster in their 38-24 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, while also complimenting the strength of the Jets fan base.
"The Meadowlands is always a tough place to play," Brady told reporters in Foxboro, Mass. "The road environment is very different than our friendly home crowd, who, when I looked up, half the stadium was gone when we were up 21 points early in the fourth quarter, which I wasn't so happy about. But I don't think the Jets fans leave early. They're going to be loud the whole game."
Linebacker David Harris thought it was a bit strange for Brady to compliment the opposing fan base, but Ihedigbo wasn't surprised, saying that Brady "knows what type of environment he and his team are getting into." Not only has Brady played at the Meadowlands a number of times, but he also remembers last season's Week 2 showdown in which he went 23-of-47 for 216 yards and an interception in a 16-9 loss to the Jets.
Ellis has his own theory about Brady's statements on the Jets crowd.
"We do have great fans," Ellis said. "They stay through the whole course of the game, they cheer us on. They're just important to us. They like the way we play and they don't miss a beat. They want to stay there to see the whole game. It's good that he's acknowledging our fans. I guess he's trying to get some cheers when they introduce him, but I'm pretty sure he'll get booed still."
The boos will surely rain down on Brady, but despite the rowdy crowd it will be imperative that the Jets put together a complete game in order to take down a talented foe. On offense the Jets will need to be aggressive, confident and precise, while the defense must be disciplined and focused.
Cornerback Dwight Lowery loves that Jets fans will bring their "A" game but knows the guys on the field have to do the same.
"We have to take advantage of our fans and we need to create a real homefield advantage," Lowery said. "It's not just the fans, it's us winning football games, it's us executing and us doing what we need to do to win the game. The fans are doing their part. Now it's up to us for the players to be out on the field and execute and win."