Ground Game Got It Going in Indianapolis

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2009 Week 16 Jets at Colts Photos

The Jets did what they do best in their 29-15 win over the previously undefeated Colts on Sunday — they ran the ball.

Led by running back Thomas Jones, whose 105 yards on 23 carries put him over the century mark for the seventh time this season, and RB Shonn Greene's 95 yards on 16 carries, the league's No. 1 rushing attack was able to manage the tempo of the game in the second half.

"We knew we were going to have to run the football and try to control the clock," said head coach Rex Ryan. "It's kind of a two-headed monster there."

It took a little bit for them to get it going. WR David Clowney's reverse in the first quarter didn't fool anybody as the play lost 14 yards, and the Jets offense totaled just 9 yards rushing and three first downs in the first quarter.

"It was tough sledding, especially early on," said Ryan.

The offense started to pick up midway through the first half as Clowney's 11-yard reception with less than two minutes left set Jay Feely up for a 37-yard field goal to put the Jets on the board, 9-3. 

Greene had a 21-yard run and quarterback Mark Sanchez hit four straight completions on the 11-play, 63-yard drive, in a game in which the Jets offense did not turn the ball over once.

"When you don't throw interceptions, things kind of go your way," said Sanchez after throwing three interceptions last week in the loss to Atlanta. "Today I just wouldn't let it happen. I just didn't want to give it to them no matter what."

It was Sanchez's sixth game without an interception this season. The Jets are 4-2 in those games, 3-1 in all games without a turnover, and 7-0 in games with a plus turnover margin.

At halftime New York's AFC representative had totaled 115 yards of offense, 54 on the ground. Although Jones had 10 carries to Greene's five, they each had 34 yards.

Then Greene got all but one carry in the third quarter.

"We want Thomas to be fresh and Shonn did a great job," said Ryan. "We had planned to alternate those guys and I think it paid off for us."

"Shonn is a really good running back," said Jones. "He has great potential. He runs hard, he runs hard downhill. He has good speed, good vision. Anytime you can get two backs rolling and keep us fresh throughout the course of the game and the second half, things should be a lot easier for you and that's how it worked out today."

On the first play of the fourth quarter, WR Brad Smith took a direct snap for a 16-yard gain to put the Jets in field goal position and Feely hit his second FG of the day — a 43-yarder.  

With the Jets up, 21-15, they continued to commit to the run. Ten out of 11 plays on their 79-yard scoring drive were runs by Greene, Jones, and a sneak by Sanchez before TJ punched the ball in from 1 yard out for his 12th touchdown of the season.

"We were able to grind it out in the second half and run the ball," said Jones, who rushed for 58 yards on that scoring drive. "Mark had a great game. Our receivers stepped up and made some really great catches. The offensive line did a great job as usual. It was a great team win."

In the Jets' past four wins they've rushed significantly more times than they've passed the ball. Sunday they rushed 44 times compared to 21 passes. In the loss last week vs. Atlanta, they passed the ball 34 times compared to 33 runs.

"That was probably one of the hardest losses I've ever been around last week," said Jones. "Just the feeling of uneasiness."

But for this game against the NFL's best, they pulled together to come out with a much needed victory.

"We have great veteran leadership on this team," Jones said. "Great leadership from our coaching staff to keep us ahead of the game and make us realize that we still have a chance. We still have to be motivated to go out here and get a win despite their record or what the outsiders say as far as our chances to win. We were able to keep our confidence up and come out with the win."

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