FOXBORO, Mass. — It’s hard to replicate a playoff atmosphere in Week 2 of the NFL season, but Sunday’s matchup at TIAA Bank Field shouldn’t be far off.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will host the New England Patriots in a rematch of last season’s epic AFC Championship Game, during which Tom Brady led two touchdown drives in the final nine minutes to steal away what would have been the Jaguars’ first Super Bowl berth in the franchise history.
The Jags, who opened the season with a 20-15 road win over the New York Giants, spent the past six months stewing over that loss. Now, they’ll have a shot at revenge in their home stadium.
“It’s going to be an emotional environment,” Brady said Wednesday. “I think everyone, whenever you play some of the best teams, you want to see where you’re measured up to, and that defense has been ranked very high all last year, and I could see why.
“We practiced against them (last summer). They were very good. They’ve got a lot of very talented players — some of the guys that are probably the best at their position. So it’s going to be a great environment for football — 4:30 game, so everyone’s going to be watching. It should be a really great game for us to go out and see what we’re made of.”
The trash talk spouted this summer by Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey ratcheted up the hype surrounding what already was a highly anticipated meeting of two projected Super Bowl contenders. Ramsey, who ripped dozens of fellow NFL players in two magazine profiles, took shots at Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and ex-Pats receiver Danny Amendola and said the officials “clearly” favored New England in the AFC title game.
Brady, whom Ramsey did not lambast during his unfiltered quarterback evaluation, expects a few on-field barbs to be traded Sunday afternoon.
“I think it raises everybody’s game,” the 41-year-old QB said, “as long as it doesn’t get to the point where you do something stupid. I mean, I think emotion in football is critical, and I think you have to have the energy and emotion. Because, I mean, it’s a game of poise, certainly, but it’s also a game of just cutting it loose, and that’s got to be a lot of confidence, a lot of trust in the people that are next to you so you can go be really free of what you’re doing to go play a very anticipatory sport.
“So you just can’t wait for things to happen. If you wait for it to happen, it’s too late. You’ve always got to anticipate, and playing with energy and enthusiasm are all part of the game.”
Asked for his opinions on various quarterbacks during an interview with GQ, Ramsey said Brady “doesn’t suck.” Brady’s response Friday: “I never want to suck, so I don’t want to be in that category.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images