The Jets' Shonn Greene runs the ball against the Colts...

The Jets' Shonn Greene runs the ball against the Colts during Sunday's AFC wild card game in Indianapolis. (Jan. 8, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

It's not the running mouths of the Jets that have caught the Patriots' attention. It's their running game.

With the Jets having rushed for 169 yards against the Colts on Saturday night, including 95 that helped eat up 18 minutes of the second half and limit Peyton Manning to three possessions, the Patriots know that stopping the Jets' ground game is priority No. 1 in Sunday's division playoff game in Foxborough, Mass.

"You're talking about two powerful runners," Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork said of LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene. "L.T. can do it all, can catch it out of the backfield, at times he blocks, a great screen guy. He's put together very, very well as a running back. With Greene coming in, he's a powerful runner. A young guy, very explosive. He's hard to bring down because he's so tough and low gravity and he runs with power."

It's no secret that the Jets' running attack doesn't start with a handoff to one of their backs, though. The offensive line starts things off. And on that line, it's Nick Mangold who makes things happen.

"It all starts with Mangold," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "He's as good a center as we've faced and he's outstanding."

Belichick said although there are primary holes for the running backs to slide through, the Jets always have a backup plan behind Mangold.

"It seems like there's always a second point of attack, second entry point, wherever his block is," Belichick said.

Rushing yards don't necessarily mean success for the Jets when they play the Patriots, though. In their Week 2 win, the Jets ran the ball 32 times for 136 yards. When they played again in Week 13, the Jets were even better on the ground, running 31 times for 152 yards. But they lost that game by 42 points.

The Patriots' run defense hasn't been too shabby, either. They finished 11th in the NFL, allowing 108 rushing yards per game. And they allowed only six runs of 20 or more yards. Only the Dolphins and Steelers had fewer. Patriots inside linebacker Jerod Mayo led the NFL with 175 tackles.

But just as the Jets' running game starts with Mangold, the Patriots' defense starts with Wilfork. Belichick compared the way he keeps offensive linemen off Mayo to the way Mean Joe Greene protected Jack Lambert in the days of the Steel Curtain. "A nose tackle is an inside linebacker's best friend," Belichick said.

And a nose tackle's worst enemy? Well, that might be Mangold. Wilfork knows that very well, having faced him many times in his career.

"The offensive line is just big and physical," Wilfork said. "They can get away with a lot of guys being single-blocked because they have the faith and confidence in their offensive line being able to go out there and block head up, getting a hat on a hat and moving power. Up front, we're going to have to do a real good job. Because if they get a running game going and we can't slow them down, it will be a long day for us."

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