Shutdown Corner - NFL

When Shaun Ellis(notes) was the only player to confirm Rex Ryan's assertion that Tom Brady(notes) had taunted the New York Jets during the New England Patriots' 45-3 blowout victory last month, it figured that the accusation lobbed by the Jets coach was another case of bluster over reality. Rex was throwing verbal darts at the Patriots and hoping one would stick. When his team didn't back him up, this one fell to the ground.

To refresh your memory, Ryan said earlier this week that Brady was rubbing it into the Jets after each Patriots touchdown during the team's Week 13 Monday night game. "[Brady] took a shot at me by his antics on the field. He always points [to everybody] after he scores."

Jets players didn't back up their coach. "I've never seen him point at somebody," Darrelle Revis(notes) said. "I've never heard him taunt or trash talk when I've been around him, no."

[Read more: Jets star has strong, profane words for Brady]

David Harris(notes) was among a slew of other players' quotes who sided with Revis. "He's not a real big trash-talker," he said. "He just goes out there and plays his game" Eric Smith(notes), Sione Pouha(notes), Tony Richardson(notes) and Dwight Lowery(notes) all agreed with those statements, according to the New York Post.

Six against one equals typical Rex bombast. Right? Not so fast, says Shaun Ellis:

"Yeah, [Brady] was taunting us. He was. [...]

"They were winning. He was feeling good, I guess, about himself. They controlled us a lot in that game. [...]

"He doesn't like the Jets. Any time he gets a chance to rub it in our face, he's going to do it."

The only way to solve this was to go to the videotape. Turns out Ryan and Ellis are right; Brady jawed to the Jets sideline after at least two touchdowns during that Monday night game, including once in what could only be Rex Ryan's direction. Check out the replay of this first-quarter touchdown pass to Deion Branch(notes), specifically at the 11-second mark: 

That's Brady going down the field, looking back to the Jets sideline (though you can't see it in the clip, New York's bench was on the bottom of the screen) and throwing a few choice words and head nods in that direction. If you think Brady was looking at a teammate rather than back at the Jets bench, this picture should put that theory to rest. In it, you see that all the offensive linemen are ahead of Brady, so when he's running up to the end zone to celebrate, there's nobody to his left to jaw at, other than the Jets sideline.

[Rewind: Gisele won't let Tom Brady cut his hair

So, in the words of double-rainbow guy, what does it all mean? Is Tom Brady some sort of dirty, taunting player who belongs on the '79 Raiders? Is he the NFL's version of Kevin Garnett? Of course not. When you talk as much smack as do the Jets, you deserve to have it get talked right back at you when your so-called rival is laying down a 17-0 first-quarter beat-down on national television. That's all Brady's doing. He's throwing it right back in their faces. 

I don't buy into the whole "Ryan's bravado is going to inspire Brady and Belichick" theory because those guys are going to be up for this game even if Rex Ryan went into a self-imposed media blackout. You don't need something to fire you up for a home divisional playoff game.

[Read more: Ryan zings Brady, praises Manning]

But don't think Brady and Belichick aren't hearing it. Ryan's words won't change the preparation of the Pats or their demeanor during plays, but when things go well, the celebrations will be extra sweet. Every touchdown scored makes Rex Ryan a little more humble and puts a little more crow onto his plate. That won't motivate Tom Brady to win on Sunday, but it darn sure will make him feel better if he does.

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