A big game for Jets' Fitzpatrick? Try Harvard-Yale
New York against New England this Sunday?
Try Harvard-Yale, 2004.
''You know, 10-0 season on the line,'' Fitzpatrick said with a big smile Tuesday. ''A lot of alumni at that game. It'll really set you up for your future if you win that one.''
He was joking, of course. But, for the record, the Crimson routed the Bulldogs 35-3 in ''The Game'' that day to finish undefeated.
''We won,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I did all right.''
Fitzpatrick was 15 of 24 for 124 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 67 yards and a score on 11 carries. He led an offense that rolled up 326 yards, including 202 on the ground.
Still, it's not exactly the type of experience an 11-year NFL veteran can draw from - even if it was a pretty big stage for a kid.
''When I was in college, you're getting 10,000 fans, maybe, and then you get to the Harvard vs. Yale game,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''At Harvard, you get 30,000-plus and at Yale you get 50- or 60,000-plus. It was always a huge deal for us, the four games, but I've played in enough now with more people that it's kind of a distant memory.''
And, there might be just a little more at stake this weekend at MetLife Stadium when the Jets (9-5) take on the Patriots (12-2) with their sights set on staying on track in the AFC playoff hunt.
''I don't know if I really want to place the significance of where it is in my career, but this is a huge one for me and I'm excited,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''This is why everybody in here plays the game. Playing football games like this in December and have a shot at playing longer. We're pretty excited about this one.''
Because of tiebreakers, the Jets are on the outside of the playoff picture while Kansas City and Pittsburgh, also 9-5, are currently in.
A loss to its AFC East rival wouldn't knock New York out of the race, but it sure would make things a lot more difficult than they already are. As it is, the Jets could finish the season on a six-game winning streak but become the third 11-5 team to not make the postseason.
''We've probably been in playoff mode the last four weeks,'' coach Todd Bowles said.
So, for the Jets, they insist their approach won't change from what it has been.
''I think maybe it's even more important this week to stay the same because there probably will be some other guys that really try to ramp it up,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''It's another football game.''
It all starts with Fitzpatrick, who has a career-high 26 touchdown passes and is three short of tying Vinny Testaverde's franchise record for a season.
But Fitzpatrick is also a dismal 1-7 against the Patriots, who have beaten the Jets in nine of the last 10 meetings. That includes a 30-23 victory for New England in October, when New York held a fourth-quarter lead before the Jets blew it against Tom Brady and Co.
''I don't know if I'd put it in those terms,'' Fitzpatrick said, ''but we've got to do a better job when it's a got-to-have-it play, of making it. Versus the Giants, we kind of did that and last week versus Dallas, we did that. So hopefully, we'll continue to improve in that area as a team.''
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall didn't hesitate when asked if this weekend's game was the biggest he has played in.
''Yes, absolutely ... because it's the next one,'' Marshall said. ''And, obviously, it's the next one and we understand the implications attached to it. So, yeah, the next couple will be the biggest games of my career.''
Neither Fitzpatrick nor Marshall has ever made the playoffs during their NFL careers, so that is also riding on the final two weeks of the regular season.
''They've got a good thing going over there,'' Fitzpatrick said of the Patriots. ''We just have to do our best to make sure that we're playing our game and we're making the plays.''
NOTES: Marshall, CB Darrelle Revis and DE Muhammad Wilkerson were selected to the Pro Bowl. It's the first of Wilkerson's career, and seventh for Revis - fifth with the Jets. Marshall, in his first season with New York, was chosen for the sixth time, but called it ''the most special one.'' He praised the running game, fellow wide receiver Eric Decker and Fitzpatrick. ''I'm just so thankful for them and also the fans who voted me in and, obviously, FitzMagic,'' Marshall said. ''I wouldn't have been here if it wasn't for FitzMagic.'' ... C Nick Mangold and RB Chris Ivory are first alternates for the Pro Bowl.