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Ground Game Pounds Jags in 2nd Half

Posted Dec 10, 2012

The New York Jets’ running game was OK the first 30 minutes Sunday at EverBank Field.  

In the second half, their performance was magnificent.

Shonn Greene rushed for 77 yards on 20 carries and Bilal Powell produced career highs with 78 yards and 19 attempts, leading the Jets' offense in their 17-10 road win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“I think we have a stable of backs that all of us can do well in this system,” Greene said on the field following the victory. “We’ve got to get everybody the ball and contribute, and I think that’s how we stay fresh and give defenses problems.”

The Jets backfield duo did more than give the Jaguars defense problems. They effectively displayed head coach Rex Ryan’s ground-and-pound philosophy, the philosophy that delivered so much success during Ryan’s first two seasons at the helm in 2009 and ’10.

“That’s how we’re built,” linebacker Calvin Pace said. “That’s how Mike [Tannenbaum] and Rex built this team, physical offensive and defensive lines, physical running backs. That’s basically the blueprint of what we do.” 

Along with their positive yardage numbers, Greene and Powell each scored a touchdown. Greene’s was the Jets’ first score on the afternoon and occurred on their first drive of the third quarter. Powell’s 4-yard score came early in the final period.

“In that second half, the way we ran the football, the way those two guys ran the ball — huge lift,” Ryan said.

For Greene, his TD was his sixth this season and first since Week 7 at New England. Powell's four touchdowns have come in each of the last four games.

"We've been playing great as of late," Greene said of his and Powell’s production.

"We're definitely getting good at this platooning system, switching them back and forth,” guard Brandon Moore said of the duo. “I think they've got a good feel for it."

And not only have Greene and Powell raised their level of play but so has the offensive line. Last week the line helped the running backs total 177 yards on the ground against Arizona. On Sunday they were nearly as sharp as the team finished with 166 yards rushing, with 116 of those yards coming in the second half.

"We're continually getting better as an offensive line,” tackle Austin Howard said. “The coaches will let us know how we did. Right now it feels like we had a decent game, not perfect. We'll really focus on things we did wrong and continue to do those things we did well."

What really stands out most to quarterback Mark Sanchez regarding the line’s recent play has been its determined will.

“I think they constantly improve as the game goes on and they keep getting stronger,” No. 6 said. “It seems like they just hit harder as the quarters go on. They stay efficient in their blocks and they’re really getting good drive off the line of scrimmage and that’s great for the run game.”

As the Green & White picked up back-to-back wins for the first time this season against the Cardinals and Jaguars, they hope this is only the beginning. If the ground game continues to keep up its production, more victories look to be in store. The stats in 2012 don’t lie: The Jets are 4-0 when they rush 40 or more times and 6-1 when they log 30 or more rush attempts. It seems like basic math. Keep handing off to Nos. 23 and 29 and good things are sure to happen.

“I thought both of them found holes and they found holes because there were holes to be found,” Sanchez said of Greene's and Powell’s afternoons. “Those guys up front did a great job owning the line of scrimmage and it was fun to watch. It was good."

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