For Jets, it's a revival of Ground & Pound in win over Colts
The promise was made 11 weeks earlier and 220 miles away, when the Jets took the field for their first practice in full pads and promptly ran the ball on 22 consecutive plays.
Yesterday, after a longer- than-he-would-have-liked delay, Rex Ryan's team at last delivered on it.
The new "Ground and Pound'' philosophy, honed on the fields of Cortland in midsummer, came to life in the form of a 35-9 grounding and pounding of the Colts at MetLife Stadium that included 44 rushes for 252 yards.
And that was only one element of a performance that closely hewed to the script Ryan touted from Day One in camp: run the ball, pass efficiently, avoid turnovers, play tough defense and sprinkle in some Tim Tebow magic.
If all that sounds obvious, that is because it is. But this, too, was obvious during the Jets' sporadic first five games of 2012: It's not as easy as it looks.
"I think this was the most complete game and the most New York Jet brand of football we were able to play so far this year,'' linebacker Aaron Maybin said.
True. Sanchez completed more than 50 percent of his passes, which for him is notable. There were no turnovers, also noteworthy. The defense made the Colts' Andrew Luck look very much like the novice quarterback he is.
(Interim coach Bruce Arians' one-word appraisal of Luck's performance: "Rookie.'')
And Tebow? He threw a critical 23-yard completion off a fake punt and ran for a first down.
Any other questions? Well, yes, actually: Can the Jets do this against a team better than the Colts? Say, the Patriots, whom they visit Sunday?
That is what really will matter in the long run. But for one day, let's give due credit to a team that has been hit by devastating injuries and that has dealt with a complicated quarterback controversy of its own making.
In spite of everything, the Jets are 3-3, in a four-way tie for first place in the division.
"You'd rather be on top of it, but right now, we're looking up at them,'' Ryan said before the Pats blew a late lead and lost in Seattle Sunday to fall to 3-3. "But here we come. I don't feel like tugging on Superman's cape today. But maybe tomorrow.''
That last part was a joke. We think. But if the Jets can stick to what worked against the Colts next Sunday, who knows?
"It definitely shows what we can be,'' said Tebow, who quickly rattled off a checklist that included ground and air efficiency, red zone conversions, special teams, takeaways and harassment of the opposing quarterback.
"When those things are going right, we can be a pretty good team,'' he said.
Some players were careful not to be typecast by reporters who latched on to the ground-and-pound angle after the game.
Said Sanchez: "Wins come in all shapes and forms, so we have to be ready to play specific to that game.''
Said center Nick Mangold: "At the end of the day, I just want to win games. I don't care how we do it.''
That makes sense as far as it goes, but it also makes sense that given their limitations, what the Jets did to the Colts is their best formula for doing similar damage to others.
"I think we can do it any week against any team,'' said Shonn Greene, who rushed 32 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns.
That's a bit of a stretch, but at least we now know it's possible. Promise.