Jets host Colts, seek­ing back-to-back wins

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Den­nis Waszak Jr.

The Jets will be look­ing for back-to-back vic­to­ries when they play host to the Colts to­day.

EAST RUTHER­FORD, N.J. >> Broad­way Joe will be in the build­ing. So will the rest of the 1968 New York Jets, cel­e­brat­ing the 50th an­niver­sary of the squad that won the fran­chise’s only Su­per Bowl.

Nos­tal­gia will be all around MetLife Sta­dium on Sun­day, with rookie Sam Darnold and this year’s Jets team try­ing to set a much more mod­est goal against the In­di­anapo­lis Colts — not co­in­ci­den­tally, the fran­chise New York beat for that 1969 ti­tle while it was in Bal­ti­more.

Com­ing off an im­pres­sive 3416 vic­tory over Den­ver last Sun­day and with the likes of Joe Na­math and Don May­nard watch­ing, New York will look to win con­sec­u­tive games for the first time since tak­ing three straight in Weeks 3-5 last sea­son — over a year ago.

“We’ve got a good team,” Darnold said. “It’s just about putting to­gether the pieces. Ob­vi­ously, we put some to­gether this past Sun­day. We’ve just got to build off of it and, for me per­son­ally, I’ve just got to stay con­sis­tent.”

The Jets (2-3) have strug­gled with that . They opened the sea­son with a 48-17 romp at Den­ver and then had clunkers against

Mi­ami, Cleve­land and Jack­sonville be­fore get­ting back in the win col­umn last week­end.

“We have to grow up and find a way to string games to­gether and get on win­ning streaks,” left tackle Kelvin Beachum said, “in­stead of los­ing streaks.”

That’s what An­drew Luck and the strug­gling Colts (1-4) will be look­ing to stop when they take the field.

In­di­anapo­lis has lost three in a row, is miss­ing some key play­ers such as wide re­ceiver T.Y. Hilton and tight end Jack Doyle to in­juries, and could see its sea­son re­ally spi­ral with an­other de­feat. The Colts, how­ever, aren’t think­ing about that right now.

“I love that this team has no quit,” tight end Eric Ebron said. “I love the story that we’ll have and I say that be­cause we’re very young, we’re all beat up, and what peo­ple don’t tend to re­al­ize is that you don’t stay beat up for­ever. You get healthy, you get guys back and then you start to es­tab­lish a dom­i­nance.”

The Jets just want to pre­vent that turn­around from start­ing Sun­day.

“We know our de­fense has their hands full, but it’s also go­ing to be a dog­fight for us too, be­cause they have a great de­fense,” Darnold said. “We’re re­ally look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge, though, know­ing how great of a quar­ter­back An­drew is.”

Here are other things to know as the Colts and Jets square off: Big Deal This will mark the first time the teams face each other since swing­ing their stun­ning trade in March that changed the top of the NFL draft.

The Jets ac­quired the No. 3 over­all pick from the Colts to move up to take Darnold, giv­ing them the fran­chise-type quar­ter­back they have been search­ing for .

New York sent In­di­anapo­lis the No. 6 se­lec­tion, which the Colts used to pick cur­rent start­ing left guard Quen­ton Nel­son. The Jets also shipped two sec­ond-round picks this year — one with which In­di­anapo­lis took start­ing right guard Braden Smith; the other was used in a trade — along with a sec­ond-rounder next year. Fly­ing Crow­ell Jets run­ning back Isa­iah Crow­ell leads the AFC with 390 yards rush­ing, and ranks third in the NFL be­hind only Dal­las’ Ezekiel El­liott (480) and Rams’ Todd Gur­ley (415).

Crow­ell soared up the list against Den­ver last Sun­day when he set a fran­chise record with 219 yards rush­ing on just 15 car­ries. It also put the con­tro­versy from the pre­vi­ous weeks far be­hind him af­ter he was fined $13,369 by the NFL and scolded by coach Todd Bowles for wip­ing his rear end with the foot­ball af­ter scor­ing a touch­down at Cleve­land in Week 3. Lots Of Luck Luck has thrown 121 passes in his last two games and leads the league with 245 at­tempts through five games .

Not bad for a guy who missed all last sea­son with a shoul­der in­jury, but the Colts might not want to keep their fran­chise QB back there throw­ing so much. Af­ter all, he’s on pace to throw 784 times this sea­son, which would shat­ter Matthew Stafford’s sin­gle-sea­son record of 727 for Detroit in 2012.

Colts coach Frank Re­ich at­tributes the high num­ber to his team fall­ing be­hind early in games, caus­ing Luck and the of­fense to play catch-up through the air. Slau­son Done Colts right guard Matt Slau­son got his NFL start with the Jets in 2009, but this week­end’s re­union plan has changed be­cause of a back in­jury.

Slau­son landed on sea­son-end­ing in­jured re­serve ear­lier this week af­ter doc­tors di­ag­nosed him with two bro­ken ver­te­brae. With­out Slau­son, Smith could make his sec­ond straight start — this time at his more nat­u­ral po­si­tion. The rookie started last week at right tackle. De­fen­sive Strides In­di­anapo­lis’ de­fense has made steady a pro­gres­sion un­der first-year co­or­di­na­tor Matt Eber­flus. While the Colts are tied for third in the league with 17 sacks and have moved out of the bot­tom quad­rant in yards al­lowed, they’re No. 23 in to­tal de­fense.

In­di­vid­u­ally, there are more promis­ing signs.

Rookie linebacker Dar­ius Leonard leads the league with 54 tack­les, even af­ter miss­ing last week’s game with a ham­string in­jury. De­fen­sive end Mar­gus Hunt leads the NFL with nine tack­les for loss.

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