Lost in the back-and-forth arising from two games played this year between the Jets and the Dolphins and one game played between the Jets and the Patriots is the fact that the Patriots and the Dolphins still play each other twice, too.
And there’s plenty of animosity between the two franchises, despite the best efforts of the Jets to supersede the rivalry by picking fights with both teams.
For one member of the Dolphins, the roots of his discontent regarding the Patriots predate his arrival in South Florida.
“It goes back to my Pittsburgh days,” linebacker Joey Porter said during a Wednesday conference call, per Albert Breer of the Boston Globe. “I felt a
certain way, after some things came out, way back when I was in
Pittsburgh, some AFC championships I lost to them, couple times. Come
to figure out a few months later why we lost. So yeah, I have a natural
hate for them. Period. And that’s just gonna be with me forever.”
He’s referring to the Patriots’ practice of videotaping defensive coaching signals, which was exposed by the Jets in 2007. Porter believes that this practice — and possibly others — were used during the 2001 and 2004 AFC title games against the Steelers, and that the Pats won both games by cheating.
But he opted not to elaborate on it this time around.
“We do this every year around this time when I do this conference
call,” Porter said. “You know exactly what I’m talking about. And they
know exactly what I’m talking about. And that’s not gonna change.”
What has changed, in Porter’s mind, is the identity of the AFC East’s king of the hill. Despite the Dolphins’ 3-4 record, Porter regards the defending division champs as the current champs.
“The division goes to the last champion, period,” Porter said. “The
last champion was the Miami Dolphins. We have the championship until we
lose it. It’s ours to lose. You can’t just crown the champion because
they used to be the champions back in the day. That hardly makes any
sense. It’s what you did the last year. You’re never judged off of what
you did a couple years ago, it’s what you’re doing now. Last year, we
were the champs.”
Porter’s logic is a bit tortured. The bottom line is that the Patriots are currently 5-2, and the Dolphins are 3-4. Last year has the same relevance as any prior year — none.
Based on right now, Porter and his teammates still have to wipe out a two-game gap between themselves and the Patriots. On Sunday, they can cut that margin in half, or they can watch it increase by 50 percent.