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Jets Q&A: Versatile Matt Forte excels in debut for Jets

New York Jets running back Matt Forte (22)

New York Jets running back Matt Forte (22) runs the ball during the first half of a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 11, 2016. Credit: Lee S Weissman / Lee S. Weissman

How did Matt Forte do in his Jets debut?

He looked as good as advertised, accumulating 155 yards in his first regular-season game in green and white. But his stat line was of little solace after Sunday’s 23-22 loss to the Bengals.

“I expect to play well and to do things like that,” said Forte, who had 96 yards on 22 carries and 59 yards on seven catches. “But you don’t get the win, it’s all out the window.”

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said he felt on the same page with his new No. 1 running back, adding: “He’s a pro’s pro.”

Coach Todd Bowles wasn’t in the mood to discuss the production of Forte or his backup, Bilal Powell (41 yards on four carries). “You have to understand this about me: If we lose the game, nobody played well,” Bowles said.

How scary can the defensive line be when Sheldon Richardson returns Thursday?


“Oh, yeah,” linebacker David Harris said. “We can’t wait for Sheldon to get back. I know he wants to be out here. He’ll be back with us tomorrow and I’m pretty sure he’ll be flying around like he always does.”

The defense did just fine without the tackle, who served a one-game suspension for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy last season. The Jets sacked Andy Dalton five times in the first half and seven times overall.

Why did Bowles settle for a late field goal instead of going for it?

With the Jets trailing 20-19 and less than four minutes left in the fourth quarter, Bowles elected to kick a field goal on fourth-and-1 from the Bengals’ 6. Why?

“If you have a chance to take the lead, you have to take the lead,” he said. “We thought our defense would hold up and stop them. You saw the third-down play before. We took a step backward. It’s better to make the kick as opposed to going for it.”

It turned out that he guessed wrong, as his defense gave way.

Bowles also settled for a field goal earlier in the fourth quarter on fourth-and-goal at the 2. After a 2-yard run by Fitzpatrick, Forte lost a yard on a run before Fitzpatrick threw incomplete to Eric Decker on third down. Nick Folk kicked a 20-yard field goal to cut the Jets’ deficit to 20-19 with 11:26 left. Asked if he had considered going for it there, Bowles said no.

Was there a chance Harris wouldn’t play?

It wasn’t until Sunday morning’s team breakfast that Bowles gave the middle linebacker the OK. Though it seemed likely that he would face the Bengals, Harris officially was “questionable” for the game because of a shoulder injury he suffered against the Giants in the preseason.

“I pretty much talked to him at breakfast this morning. Shoulder felt good,” said Harris, who hasn’t missed a game since 2008.

How good did his shoulder feel? “Good enough to play,” he said, smiling.

And during the game? “Good enough to play,” he repeated playfully.

As quarterback of the defense, Harris is known as the “glue” that keeps the unit together, Bowles has said. But on Friday, Harris raised doubts about his status after he divulged that his shoulder still was “sore and tight” after practice.

Asked how his shoulder felt after playing four quarters of football, he said, laughing: “Good enough to go home.”

Any injuries we should know about?

Safety Calvin Pryor (unknown) and rookie linebacker Darron Lee (knee) left the game briefly. They eventually returned, and Bowles reported no injuries after the game.


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