Ajayi proud to represent Britain as Dolphins reach NFL playoffs
British involvement in American Football has historically been limited to eager hopefuls being cut from squads before the season even begins. This evening in Pittsburgh, London-born Jay Ajayi will not just be taking part, but taking centre stage.
The Miami Dolphins running back has emerged this season as one of the league’s most promising players in his position. He will be starting in the playoffs against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with a chance to have a huge impact on the game.
“It’s been very exciting for me personally,” says Ajayi. “My own family is in the UK, too, so it makes me want to keep pushing forward and raising my game.
“It’s exciting to be one of only a few UK guys in the NFL and I take pride in it.” Ajayi’s breakout game was against the Steelers, with the 23year-old starring in a victory for the Dolphins in October. He rushed for 204 yards in a 30-15 win and scored two touchdowns.
He followed this performance with another 200plus-yard rushing effort against division rivals the Buffalo Bills, becoming only the fourth player in NFL history to exceed the 200-yard total in two consecutive games. “I have had a solid year,” he says. “To have had the opportunity to play in the play-offs is just amazing, and it’s a great feeling having all that support.” The Dolphins will be without their regular starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, against the favoured Steelers, with back-up Matt Moore starting only his fourth game of the season, but Ajayi sees no reason why this should put extra emphasis on him to perform.
“Matt has played the last three games, scored touchdowns and really showcased his ability, so I don’t think there’s a lot of added pressure on me to produce.
“I know my role in this team and I know if I’m productive on the ground and our line does what they need to do then we’ll have a good game. It’s all about everyone doing their job. It’s the play-offs, and everyone must come with their A-game.
“We can’t go out there believing the moment is too big, or we won’t perform.
“I’m ready for the atmosphere and I’m prepared for the game despite the fact I haven’t played in a play-off game before. I believe in myself and am confident I can do the job.”
Flier: Jay Ajayi is now the Dolphins’ top running back