Running Game Had Stops and Starts vs. Saints

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2009 Week 4 - Jets at Saints Photos

The Jets passed the ball more than they ran it for the first time in four games this season while getting behind in the 24-10 loss at New Orleans.

With the Saints forcing Mark Sanchez to beat them through the air, the rookie had four turnovers. Two in the first half went for touchdowns that had a direct impact on the loss. But Thomas Jones, who rushed for the only TD — a 15-yard sprint down the middle in the third quarter — wasn't about to throw the rookie QB under the bus.

"He wasn't the only player to make mistakes. Everyone made mistakes," Jones told SNY's Steve Overmyer. "No one played the perfect game so he has to learn from his mistakes just like everyone else does."

With his first four rushing yards of the game Jones became the 40th running back to gain 8,000 career rushing yards. He finished with 48 yards on 13 carries.

But the Jets were unable to get the ball in the end zone in the first half by sticking with the run, carrying it 17 times for 82 yards while dropping back 16 times for 44 yards.

"When they were able to stop our run, then they pinned their ears back," said head coach Rex Ryan. "We have to run the ball a little more effectively and get a little more yardage on first down and that will give some opportunities to convert more on third down."

The Jets converted only three of 12 third downs, which helped allow the Saints' explosive offense to win the possession battle, 32:39-27:21.

After Dwight Lowery's first career fumble recovery, with the Jets down by 14 points, Jones got the ball on the fourth play of the drive. Running off his left side behind blocks by tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and company, TJ tore through the gaping hole to the end zone, putting the Jets within a score, 17-10, with 7:48 left in the third quarter.

The Jets weren't able to take advantage of the momentum with three-and-outs on the following two possessions allowing the Saints offense to quickly return to action. Drew Brees drove the ball down the field, mixing the run and the pass, before handing off to Pierre Thomas, who scored the Saints' first and only offensive TD with 6:07 remaining in the game

Even though the Jets never had the lead in falling to their first defeat of the season, Jones was positive.

"We have a lot of football left. We're still in a great situation with our record and the momentum that we had," said Jones. "This was just a stumbling block."

Leon Washington was limited on offense, rushing only four times for 17 yards, mostly out of the "Seminole" formation, and Brad Smith also rushed twice for 20 yards. Shonn Greene showed promise in his first offensive action as a pro, rushing four times for 23 yards.

"Obviously, we have two Pro Bowl backs, but I think this kid can play," said Ryan. "You're never going to find out until you throw him in there."

The Green & White's 132 rushing yards was their second-highest total of the season and their 4.9 yards per carry the highest of the year against a New Orleans defense that came into the game allowing 67 rushing yards a game and 3.2 yards per carry.

Along with the rest of the squad, Jones and the backs will have to make the necessary corrections and adjustments.

"You have to have a short memory in this league," said Jones. "Win or lose, we just have to watch the film see what we did wrong, correct the mistakes and see what we can do next week."

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