FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Tom Brady missed practice for the Patriots with a knee injury on Wednesday, and all of New England is now waiting to exhale. But there's no reason for Jets fans to bother holding their breath. The Jets, as you all know, just aren't lucky enough for Brady to miss this game.
As far as the Jets are concerned, though, that's just fine. At this point, they'd rather see Brady in the lineup. Because if they're going to pull off this meaningless upset just so they can feel a little better about themselves in their lost season, they may as well do it with the Patriots at full strength.
"You always want to be full strength with your team and full strength with the other team just so you can have everybody who is supposed to be on the field playing," said Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. "He doesn't miss too many games, though."
No, Brady doesn't miss many. In fact, he hasn't missed any with an injury since 2008. So chances are Brady will be out there at the Meadowlands on Sunday. And even though he might be without his No. 1 target, tight end Rob Gronkowski -- who reportedly will miss the game with a punctured lung - Brady will still be as hard as ever to stop.
That's because Brady, at age 39 and in his 17th NFL season and sitting on 199 career wins, is doing exactly what everyone thought he'd be doing following his four-game Deflate-gate suspension. He's attacking the league with a vengeance, showing no mercy. In six games - five of them wins - he's completed 70.4 percent of his passes and thrown for 1,915 yards, with 16 touchdowns and just one interception.
He's basically been near-impossible to stop.
"There's no difference in his game," said Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. "I know a lot of people say he came back with a chip on his shoulder. He's the ultimate competitor. He's always been that way since he stepped into the league. He's continuing his legacy of being probably the best quarterback ever to step on the field."
The Jets have actually had a tiny bit of success against Brady over the years, beating him seven times in 28 games. That includes a 26-20 win at the Meadowlands last December, which was their second win over Brady in their last five games. And each one is a huge accomplishment, as far as the Jets are concerned, since Brady is "the best I've seen since I've been coaching, easily," Jets coach Todd Bowles said.
"We all know what a great player he is, even in a historical context," Fitzpatrick said. "But to be able to take the hits week after week and continue to be out there … you know, I don't feel like I'm a spring chicken anymore. I'll be 34 tomorrow. It's amazing to see a guy like that who just looks better than ever."
"I feel he's a very intelligent football player," Revis added. "He studies the game. He just works, man. He comes in working, he challenges guys. I mean he called me out a few times when we were teammates. He challenges guys like a leader should.
"He's definitely a first-ballot Hall of Famer."