Chris Ivory helps Jets turn back clock to their run-heavy days
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The Jets weren't wearing their "throwback" jerseys, but the echoes of coach Rex Ryan's favored "ground-and-pound" offense were evident in their 30-27 overtime victory over the Patriots on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Jets ran the ball on 12 of 14 plays on their drive for the winning field goal, including nine times by chief battering ram Chris Ivory.
It was a change of pace for pass-happy offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. Starting running back Bilal Powell came off the field early with what appeared to be a foot or ankle injury, but Ryan said the decision to ride Ivory, who carried 34 times for 104 yards, was based on the matchup of the Jets' offensive line against a Pats defense missing injured nose tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo.
"I'm a little worried about our offensive coordinator because all he wants to do is run the football," Ryan joked. "We had 52 rushing attempts. That's what I'm talking about."
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Rookie quarterback Geno Smith came out slinging with a touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerley on the opening drive, but Smith threw an interception on the second drive that was returned 79 yards for a score by Patriots rookie cornerback Logan Ryan.
The Jets leaned heavily on the running game the rest of the way. Ivory carried nine times for 23 yards in overtime, which might not sound like much, but two runs went for first downs and he bounced another outside for 8 yards on a first-down play.
"It came down to us," right guard Willie Colon said of the offensive line. "Marty gave us the keys to the car. We drove it as far as we could, and Ivory did a great job of keeping his shoulders forward and gained yards.
"We always knew Chris had that ability. He showed up in a big way for us today, and I'm proud of him. To have that type of game is awesome."
Ivory, obtained in a trade with the Saints during the draft in April, missed most of training camp and two regular-season games with a hamstring injury. Ivory was uncertain if Powell was hurt, but he just ran with the rock when the Jets gave it to him. Ivory's 34 carries against the Pats matched his total for his five previous games.
"It helps get in a rhythm and get more of a feel for the scheme and the running lanes," Ivory said of the steady diet.
Ivory praised the Patriots' linebackers as a big, hard-hitting crew, but he acknowledged that it's his nature to run to contact rather than maneuver through traffic like a sports car. "A lot of guys have a lot of wiggle," Ivory said. "I'm a one-cutter. Running inside the tackles, you shouldn't be doing too much wiggling, in my opinion, unless you have five yards between you and the defender. That's just my style -- I see it and hit it."
For this day at least, Ivory reprised the role of Thomas Jones, the power back who excelled at running between the tackles in Ryan's first season of 2009.
Asked if this kind of win might set the tone for the offense, Ivory said: "If we're consistent as far as the way we played this week, I think it can set the tone. We have to let it be seen that we can do this week in and week out."