By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Sports Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Handoff after handoff, Shonn Greene
took the ball _ and just kept running.
Rex Ryan’s “Ground-and-Pound” offense returned in a big way
Sunday as Greene ran for a career-high 161 yards and three
touchdowns on 32 carries to power the New York Jets to a 35-9 rout
of Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
“When you’re running the ball that well,” quarterback Mark
Sanchez said, “you never want to stop.”
The Jets rolled up 252 yards on the ground after struggling in
the running game for weeks, Sanchez was mistake-free in an
efficient performance, and Tim Tebow had a 23-yard pass on a fake
punt that sent the MetLife Stadium into a frenzy. Even the Jets’
maligned defense was able to frustrate Luck into three turnovers as
New York snapped a two-game slide at home that had many wondering
if the season was about to spiral out of control.
“We want to be a team no one wants to play,” Ryan said. “And,
we’re on our way.”
For a week, at least, Sanchez was in total control and the Jets
(3-3) had their best overall performance _ save for a handful of
personal foul penalties _ since an opening rout of Buffalo. After
four straight games with less than 50 percent completion rate,
Sanchez finished 11 of 18 for just 82 yards, but had touchdown
throws to Stephen Hill and Jason Hill.
“Wins come in all shapes and forms,” Sanchez said. “I was
proud of the way we were able to run the ball.”
With the way the Jets, particularly Greene, performed behind an
offensive line blasting open holes to run through, Sanchez didn’t
need to air it out.
“I think we can do it every week against any team,” Greene
said. “It’s just a matter of us executing, not stopping ourselves
and working hard during the week.”
The frustrating thing for the Colts (2-3) is that they knew the
Jets would try to run the ball on them. And they still couldn’t do
anything to stop them.
“We wanted Sanchez to have to beat us with his arm,”
cornerback Jerraud Powers said. “If we stopped the run, that was
what they were going to have to do. Whoever we play next week,
that’s what they’re going to do. They’re going to run the ball
until we stop it.”
Indianapolis trailed 21-6 at halftime and couldn’t erase a big
deficit for the second straight week after coming back from 18
points and beating Green Bay last Sunday for Bruce Arians’ first
win while filling in for Chuck Pagano, hospitalized while being
treated for leukemia.
Luck finished 22 of 44 for 280 yards, two interceptions and a
lost fumble on a day he misfired a handful of times. Luck was
driving the Colts for a possible touchdown with less than 7 minutes
left, but Ellis Lankster ended that when he intercepted the
rookie’s toss for Donnie Avery in the end zone.
“It’s learning how to be consistent, and that’s something I’ve
struggled with,” Luck said. “I think I played very poorly this
week after a decent half of football last weekend. As a team, we
have to learn to come out and consistently be good.”
The Colts were missing sacks leader Robert Mathis, and lost
defensive end Cory Redding to an injured right knee in the first
quarter. Indianapolis was also without leading rusher Donald Brown;
replacement Vick Ballard had just 25 yards in his first NFL start.
Tebow helped the Jets take a 21-6 lead just before halftime on a
drive kept alive by some trickery. On fourth-and-11 from the Colts
40, the do-it-all backup quarterback _ lined up as the punt
protector _ took the direct snap, stepped forward and tossed a jump
pass to linebacker Nick Bellore, who rumbled 23 yards as the crowd
at MetLife Stadium went wild.
Three plays later, Tebow was at quarterback and ran 3 yards for
a first down, setting up Sanchez’s 5-yard TD toss to Hill with 27
seconds left. Tebow met Sanchez as he ran toward the sideline and
the two leaped and bumped hips to celebrate the score.
“We were very efficient, effective,” Tebow said. “We had some
big runs, threw the ball really well in the red area and converted
on third down. It was a pretty good day for us.”
Greene made it 28-6 late in the third quarter on a 4-yard
spin-and-run on a drive sparked by Joe McKnight’s 61-yard run that
gave the Jets the ball at Indianapolis 6. McKnight injured his left
ankle on the play, three plays after Bilal Powell was lost with a
Both McKnight and Powell were scheduled to have MRI exams
Greene got the touchdown hat trick with a 2-yard run with 1:05
left, a few minutes after Muhammad Wilkerson forced a fumble on a
sack of Luck and David Harris recovered at the Colts 14.
“If you can’t block and you can’t tackle, you can’t win,”
Arians said. “It’s fundamentals, things we identified going into
the game: fake punts, stopping the run, protecting the quarterback.
Red zone offense and defense were keys to the game. We didn’t win
in any of those areas.”
NOTES: Jets CB Antonio Cromartie had two interceptions for TDs
called back _ one on a personal foul penalty on Aaron Maybin and
another on a pass interference call on Cromartie. … Jets
first-rounder Quinton Coples had 11/2 sacks, his first. … The Colts
were 3 of 11 on third downs, while the Jets were 6 of 12.
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(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)