Jets’ de­fense at­ten­tion on Mi­ami run­ning back

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Steven Wine

Jay Ajayi has a chance to be­come the first player to rush for 200 yards in three con­sec­u­tive games when the Dol­phins play the Jets, so imag­ine the stir he cre­ated while vis­it­ing New York last week­end.

Jay Ajayi has a chance to be­come the first NFL player to rush for 200 yards in three con­sec­u­tive games when the Dol­phins play the Jets, so imag­ine the stir he cre­ated while vis­it­ing New York last week­end dur­ing his team’s bye week.

Lots of at­ten­tion, right? Wrong.

“A cou­ple of peo­ple at the ho­tel, maybe,” Ajayi said with a grin, “but I’m still just me, I guess.”

Not to the Jets. They’ll be geared to stop Ajayi and deny him a rush­ing record.

“We’re not go­ing to be a foot­note in his­tory,” de­fen­sive line­man Shel­don Richard­son said. The Dol­phins (3-4) and Jets (3-5) have each re­vived their sea­son with two con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries, but one of those streaks will end Sun­day.

Here are some things to know about the 102nd meet­ing of AFC East ri­vals:

Record Rusher

Ajayi was the Dol­phins’ Mr. Oc­to­ber, ty­ing an NFL record by top­ping 200 yards rush­ing in con­sec­u­tive games be­fore the bye.

The sec­ond-year pro more than dou­bled his ca­reer rush­ing to­tal, and a lot of his yards in the two games were hard-earned. Ajayi forced 12 missed tack­les in 53 car­ries, and 277 of his 418 yards came af­ter con­tact, ac­cord­ing to Pro Foot­ball Fo­cus.

Now he and the Dol­phins face a Jets run de­fense ranked No. 1 in the league at 74 yards per game.

“We know we’re go­ing to have a good chal­lenge,” Ajayi said. “At the same time, we’re not wor­ried about any­body else. We’re wor­ried about our­selves. If we do our jobs and we go out there like we know we can play, I think we’re go­ing to have a good day.”

The Jets are con­fi­dent, too. The only pre­vi­ous time they faced Ajayi, he car­ried three times for 6 yards.

“He’s a de­cent back,” Richard­son said.

It Starts up Front

While Ajayi has been tough to tackle , he has also ben­e­fited from gap­ing holes cour­tesy of a group of block­ers paving the way for the team’s turn­around.

“It was like we were search­ing for an iden­tity,” first-year Mi­ami coach Adam Gase said, “and they ba­si­cally said, ‘Well, this is go­ing to be our iden­tity, whether you like it or not. You bet­ter start call­ing runs, be­cause we’re go­ing to get you yards.”’

The of­fen­sive line in­cludes first-round pick Laremy Tun­sil, who has be­come a force at left guard and is com­ing off his best game yet against the Bills.

“If you watch his first pull in the game, I think he could have played for Vince Lom­bardi and run the Green Bay sweep,” of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Clyde Chris­tensen said.

Fitz Re­bounds

Ryan Fitz­patrick got off to a rough start to the sea­son with 11 in­ter­cep­tions in the first six games, and was benched in fa­vor of Geno Smith. Af­ter Smith was lost for the sea­son be­cause of a knee in­jury, the Jets turned back to Fitz­patrick, who had a bru­tal first half last week against the Browns, go­ing 3 of 14 for 30 yards. Joe Na­math, among others, took to so­cial me­dia to call for Fitz­patrick to be benched again in fa­vor of Bryce Petty. But Fitz­patrick turned things around in the sec­ond half and helped lead the Jets to a 31-28 vic­tory.

He’s con­fi­dent he can lead the Jets on the type of run that got them within a win of the play­offs last sea­son.

“Ex­pec­ta­tions for us are we’ve got to win them all,” Fitz­patrick said. “I mean, that’s what we hope to do. I think we have the right guys in the locker room to do it.”

Forte Feels Fine

Matt Forte has put to rest — at least for now — any con­cerns about whether he had any­thing left in his 30-year-old legs.

He had 82 yards and two touch­downs on 25 car­ries last week at Cleve­land, a week af­ter rush­ing for 100 yards and a touch­down on 30 car­ries against Bal­ti­more. Forte ranks ninth in the NFL with 542 yards rush­ing, and his six TD runs ties him for fourth.

Q is the An­swer

Quincy Enunwa has stepped in for the in­jured Eric Decker and be­come a key play­maker for the Jets of­fense. The 2014 six­thround draft pick out of Ne­braska leads New York with 36 re­cep­tions for 502 yards and three touch­downs, in­clud­ing a 57-yarder last week in which he ran through four tack­les to get into the end zone. Enunwa also broke up a would-be in­ter­cep­tion. “He’s play­ing with so much con­fi­dence,” Fitz­patrick said. “He wants to be that guy, and he has re­ally come through this year for us. We ex­pect a lot out of him, and ex­pect him to con­tinue do­ing it.”

WIL­FREDO LEE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ajayi has a chance to be­come the first NFL player to rush for 200 yards in three con­sec­u­tive games when the Dol­phins play the Jets.

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