Ajayi proud to rep­re­sent Bri­tain as Dol­phins reach NFL play­offs

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - SPORT - By Thom Gibbs

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

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