Thomas Jones looked determined out of the gate this afternoon at the Meadowlands when the Jets hosted the Philadelphia Eagles.
At the end of the day, however, Jones' determination, although effective in the Jets running game, turned into frustration as the Jets dropped their fifth contest of the season.
"We work really hard in practice every week, on everything in every situation, and unfortunately we just haven't been able to put it together in a game," said Jones. "It's extremely frustrating to be 1-5, but that's the NFL."
"You never know what's going to happen. If you don't come out and execute and play good football for four quarters, then you don't give yourself a good chance to win."
Jones finished his sixth game as a member of the Jets with 24 carries for a season-high and game-leading 130 yards. It was his second 100-yard rushing performance of the season — the first coming in the team's only victory, over the still-winless Dolphins, on Sept. 23. Jones now has 18 regular-season 100-yard rushing performances in 67 career starts.
Even though this game was the most impressive of his Jets career, Jones was clearly unhappy in his postgame news conference. Not only did the Eagles defense keep him from scoring his first touchdown of the season, but the Jets were held to three field goals en route to their second loss to an NFC East team in two weeks.
"I'll watch the film and see what we did, but I'm not thinking about what I did," said Jones. "Ultimately we didn't win the game, and that's what matters regardless of how well I do. If you don't win, then its all for nothing."
The way things were going in the opening quarter, it appeared Jones and the Jets offense were in for a profitable afternoon against a good Philadelphia run defense.
On the first offensive play of the game, Jones cut to the right side and picked up a season-long 36-yard run and a first down in Eagles territory. The eighth-year running back from Virginia then took the next handoff another 11 yards, setting the Jets up at the Philadelphia 20-yard line.
"You always love seeing your running back being able to run," said C Nick Mangold, "and having a big run to open up the game gives you a good spark and sets the tone."
The offense, seeking a crucial early lead, were was held to 8 yards in the next three plays and was forced to attempt a field goal into a windy east end zone. Kicker Mike Nugent came on to drill the 30-yarder, but even with the 3-0 lead, the offense sat on the sidelines with a bad aftertaste.
"We had a spark early on," WR Jerricho Cotchery said. "We ran right down the field and were moving the ball pretty well and the next thing you know we hit a wall."
"It's very frustrating," Mangold said of the opening drive. "When you get into the red zone you want to score, and when you don't score, it's tough."
Jones went on to rush for 82 yards in the first quarter alone. The Jets offense was held to just two quick series in the second quarter and he went into the locker room at halftime with 96 yards.
"Thomas was able to do some good things running hard. It was just good to see those things coming together a little bit," Mangold said. "Our line had a better focus on it today and our guys played much better up front for him."
"Thomas has been the same this whole time," he added. "We were just able to clean some things up as an offensive line and he kept playing hard so it came together pretty well."
Jones added 34 rushing yards in the second half, 18 coming on the Jets' final drive of the game. He also added a crucial 11-yard reception on that drive to bring them to the Eagles 32, when the Green & White needed a touchdown to tie it.
The offense fell short after Chad Pennington's third-down keeper on third-and-1 from the Eagles' 4 gained nothing and his pass attempt to fellow captain Laveranues Coles in the left corner of the end zone on fourth-and-1 was broken up by Sheldon Brown.
Despite falling short for the third straight week, the Jets did make some strides in their rushing attack.
"We made a lot of progress. This is a good rushing defense," head coach Eric Mangini said. "We worked on the running game and we'll continue to work on the running game. There's a few things that I really liked in the area against a good defensive group."
"The offensive line did a really good job today; coming off the ball, being aggressive," said Jones, who leads the team with 420 rushing yards this season. "The tight ends did a great job coming off the ball. Coach Schottenheimer and the offensive coaches did a great job calling the right runs at the right time. I think we all just worked really well together today."