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Chris Ivory plays huge role in Jets' big win against his old team

Chris Ivory (33) rushes during the first half

Chris Ivory (33) rushes during the first half of a game against the New Orleans Saints. (Nov. 3, 2013) Credit: AP

Go ahead and let it out now, Chris Ivory. The game's over, you beat your former team and you were the offensive star with 139 rushing yards and a touchdown. So even though you insisted during the week there was no added motivation, it's OK to admit it. There has to be a part of you that really, really loved sticking it to the Saints.

Sorry. Ivory wasn't buying it.

Even after he dominated the team he played for from 2010-12, he wouldn't puff his chest. Not even a hint of an in-your-face moment.

"You guys want me to say that , but that's just not how it feels,'' he said after the Jets scored a 26-20 upset over the Saints, who entered 6-1. "I really look at it just like another game.''

Of course he does.

As we like to say in the Twitter world: #eyeroll

"To say that you're going against your old team, there's nothing special there? Yeah, right,'' said Rex Ryan, offering his own eye roll to the notion that the game didn't mean more to Ivory. "There always is, no matter who it is, whether it's high school, college, pro, whatever. You want to play against your former team and you want to have a good showing.''

And Ivory did just that, rushing for the most yards since his rookie season in New Orleans and giving the Jets their second victory over a first-place team in the past three games.

Not coincidentally, Ivory's tough running keyed the Jets' Week 7 OT win over the Pats. He did it again in an equally big spot against the surging Saints.

Ivory is proving to be every bit as valuable as the fourth-round draft pick the Jets surrendered to get him. Once he recovered from hamstring problems that set him back in the preseason, his between-the-tackles running has been a major factor in the Jets' recent surge. A team that was given up for lost entering the season is 5-4 at the bye, with big-time wins over two Super Bowl contenders sandwiched around a mystifying 49-9 loss to the Bengals.

"You treat every game the same,'' Ivory said. "Everybody played well collectively.''

If there was one play that underscored just how important Ivory was to the win, it was this:

On second-and-12 from the Jets' 2, Geno Smith took the snap and turned to hand the ball off to Ivory. The play was designed to have the running back get through a hole on the right side, with pulling guard Brian Winters leading the way. Winters' job was to pull to his right and block inside linebacker Curtis Lofton to spring Ivory.

"My first read is an inside read or an outside read, and I blocked the linebacker outside and he bounced right off,'' Winters said of Lofton.

Ivory barreled through the hole and ran 52 yards before being shoved out of bounds by rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro.

"By the time he runs through, I'm a fan,'' right tackle Austin Howard said. "There's no way I'm going to catch Chris, so you kind of just watch him. It was great to see.''

"It energizes you,'' Ryan said of the play. "Any time you get a big back making plays like that, it energizes everybody, including myself.''

Even if Ivory insists it was no big deal doing it against the team that let him go. Right.

"I think it's human nature,'' Howard said. "If you have ever played with another team and get the chance to play against that team, it's going to be a little extra edge for you, extra emotion towards it. Chris has that mentality every week, but you could definitely see that in his eyes.''

Ivory runs as hard as anyone, offering an added dimension to a team that knows it can beat the best when it plays its best.

That's two statement wins in three weeks -- enough to make you realize that the Jets have a chance to do something no one outside their locker room could have imagined coming into the season: playing into January.

New York Sports