FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tedy Bruschi got out of his van, felt the cold air slap his face, saw the snow flurries and knew it was going to be a good night.

“It will do,” said Bruschi.

Bruschi, who loved playing in the cold and snow, was honored by the Patriots during halftime of Monday night’s game between the New England Patriots and New York Jets at Gillette Stadium.

After the Patriots walked off with a 24-3 halftime lead, Bruschi, his family and Patriots owner Robert Kraft came to midfield.

Kraft needed only to ask, “Do we want to see him don No. 54 one more time?” to get the crowd going.

Bruschi pulled the jersey on and said, as he rubbed the numbers on his chest, “It still feels good.”

The fans interrupted him several times with chants of “Tedy, Tedy, Tedy,” as he spoke of what it meant to play his entire 13-year career for the Patriots.

“Playing football for the New England Patriots is about winning championships and hanging banners,” he said. He then listed players that he played with and wanted the fans to remember as well.

As he finished, he said, “I wasn’t raised here, but after playing 13 years, I consider myself a New Englander.”

He was drafted in the third round in 1996 and helped the Patriots to 11 winning records, three Super Bowl championships, five conference titles and eight division titles.

Now an analyst for ESPN, which televised the game, Bruschi said he was honored to see so many No. 54 “Bruschi” jerseys still worn in the stands.

“I’ve always said that was the biggest compliment fans ever gave me, to wear my jersey on their back and my name on their back,” said Bruschi, who served as an honorary captain for the pregame coin flip (and got a big hug from former teammate and current Jet Damien Woody). “I still see them once in a while and it’s very flattering. It’s a great honor to see that.

“I’ve always considered myself having a special relationship with the fans. I sort of grew up with the organization. My career, my abilities as a player, grew with the organization becoming more successful.”

BIG GAME: The press box was overflowing, with 725 media credentials distributed for the game. That included the ESPN crew, photographers, videographers and reporters.

Not only that, but The Donald, (Trump, of course) was on hand, patrolling the sideline with Kraft during pregame.

 

COLD FACTS: Entering the game, the Patriots were 25-6 when the game-time temperature is below 34 degrees.

The temperature Monday was 27, with a wind chill of 15.

 

MONDAY NIGHT facts and figures:

This was the seventh time the Patriots and Jets have met on Monday Night Football, with the Patriots winning three of them — the first game between them, 41-7 on Oct. 18, 1976; 31-21 on Dec. 26, 2005; and 45-3 Monday night. The Patriots three wins were at home.

Tom Brady is 10-4 in Monday night games.

The Patriots are 19-22 on Monday night, 12-5 under Bill Belichick. They are 9-8 at home.

 

FORMER UMAINE tight end Matt Mulligan was among the Jets inactive players.

That list also included linebacker Jamaal Westerman, offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse, tight end Jeff Cumberland, receiver Laveranues Coles and defensive linemen Marcus Dixon and Matt Kroul.

The Jets, of course, were without starting safety Jim Leonhard, who broke his leg Friday and is out for the year.

 

INACTIVE PLAYERS for the Patriots included defensive linemen Myron Pryor, Eric Moore and Mike Wright, as well as offensive linemen Mark LeVoir and Rich Ohrnberger, cornerback Jonathan Wilhite, running back Thomas Clayton and wide receiver Taylor Price.

Clayton and Moore were added to the roster this week, as the Patriots placed guard Stephen Neal on injured reserve and released linebacker Pierre Woods.

 

RENE RANCOURT of Lewiston, best known for his renditions of the national anthem at Boston Bruins games, wore a Bruschi jersey as he sang the anthem in Foxborough.

 

FIREWOOD WAS a hot commodity – no pun intended – for tailgating. With the temperature falling into the 20s and a brisk wind and lightly falling snow making it seem even colder, fans used all their wits to enjoy their pregame meals.

Many took to setting up huge tents over a couple of parking spaces, then crowding inside. Others kept their grills open and gathered around.

Another group set up portable firepits and enjoyed the warmth.

There was yet another group that simply went into their cars and turned on the heat.

The Patriots tried to keep the fans warm by displaying a burning fireplace on the enormous videoscreen.

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]