The “ground and pound” returned on Sunday afternoon in the Jets’ 35-9 win over the Colts. The Jets looked like a different team behind running back Shonn Greene’s career-high 161 rushing yards and a defense that bent but didn’t break often.
Now 3-3, hope springs eternal for the Jets as they emerge relatively healthy from the win ahead of a trip this Sunday to New England.
What we learned …
1. Early game woes
If there was one negative from what was a rather complete performance from New York, it was their slow start. The Jets don’t ever make it easy on themselves, going down 3-0 midway through the first quarter via a 20-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri. This represented the fourth straight game where the Jets have let their opponent score first. Compounding the issue, the offense has struggled early as well with just three first quarter touchdowns all season and only one touchdown in the opening 15 minutes of their last three games. The positive from Sunday is that the Jets rebounded from their slow start, limiting the Colts to just six points outside of that first drive and their offense put up 21 points in the second quarter to pull away.
2. King of the Hill
The return of rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill from a hamstring injury was a boost for the Jets offense. Hill has a big frame and a long stride, making him an outstanding downfield target and presence in the red zone. He proved to be just that when, with 14:13 left in the second quarter, Hill used his body to shield his defender and make a 5-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone. The score gave the Jets a much needed 7-3 lead and showed his importance in the offense. Hill’s numbers weren’t gaudy — he had three catches for 23 yards — but he provided a nice outlet and along with the equally large-framed Chaz Schilens, quarterback Mark Sanchez now has two easy receivers to hit.
3. Go Greene
For the first time since Week 1, the Jets actually got their rushing game going. Greene finally looked like the “bell cow” head coach Rex Ryan keeps saying he is. By early in the second quarter, Greene had 49 rushing yards, topping his second-highest total of the season with most of the game still left to play. The offensive line orchestrated much of the ability for Greene to run, with center Nick Mangold and the right side of the line being especially effective at opening holes. On the Jets’ first scoring drive of the first quarter, Greene had a season-long 21-yard run up the middle that was made possible by a wonderful block from Brandon Moore. Greene rushed for 94 yards in the Week 1 win over the Bills but Sunday represented his first 100-yard rushing effort since Week 14 last year. In fact, his rushing total from Sunday was more than his last three games combined.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.