Ground-and-Pounded: Greene runs for career-high 161 yards, 3 TDs as Jets blast Colts 35-9

Mark Sanchez was at dinner with his running backs last week when Shonn Greene's meal arrived at the table.

Talk about a heaping helping.

"I think Shonn got the biggest steak you could possibly have," the New York Jets quarterback said with a smile. "He eats like a lineman. He needed it all today, though, so that was good for him."

Well, Sanchez and Greene might want to make a habit of breaking bread together more often. Rex Ryan's "Ground-and-Pound" offense returned in a big way Sunday as Greene ran for a career-high 161 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries to power the Jets to a 35-9 rout of Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

"When you're running the ball that well," Sanchez said, "you never want to stop."

Just about everything worked for the Jets (3-3) as they rolled up 252 yards on the ground after struggling in the running game for weeks. New York had just 114 yards rushing combined in its two losses to Houston and San Francisco.

"When you're down and the running game's not going as well as you want, it's easy to just give up on it and just be like, 'whatever,' but we keep working every week at practice," Greene said. "We keep just grinding and grinding and saying it's going to come along and it did today."

Sanchez was mistake-free in an efficient performance, and Tim Tebow had a 23-yard pass on a fake punt that got the MetLife Stadium fired up. Even the Jets' maligned defense was able to frustrate Luck into three turnovers as New York snapped a two-game slide at home that had many wondering if the season was about to spiral out of control.

"We want to be a team no one wants to play," Ryan said. "And, we're on our way."

Next up: a first-place showdown with New England, which is also 3-3 — along with the rest of the AFC East — following a last-minute loss at Seattle.

"Right now, we're looking up at them, but here we come," Ryan said before the Patriots-Seahawks game ended. "I don't feel like tugging on Superman's cape today, but maybe tomorrow."

For a week, at least, Sanchez was in total control and the Jets had their best overall performance — save for a handful of personal foul penalties — since an opening rout of Buffalo. After four straight games with less than 50 percent completion percentage, Sanchez finished 11 of 18 for just 82 yards, but had touchdown throws to Stephen Hill and Jason Hill.

"Wins come in all shapes and forms," Sanchez said. "I was proud of the way we were able to run the ball."

With the way the Jets, particularly Greene, performed behind an offensive line blasting open holes, Sanchez didn't need to air it out.

"I think we can do it every week against any team," Greene said.

The frustrating thing for the Colts (2-3) is that they knew the Jets would try to run the ball on them. And they still couldn't to stop them.

"We wanted Sanchez to have to beat us with his arm," cornerback Jerraud Powers said. "If we stopped the run, that was what they were going to have to do. Whoever we play next week, that's what they're going to do. They're going to run the ball until we stop it."

Tebow helped the Jets take a 21-6 lead just before halftime on a drive kept alive by some trickery. On fourth-and-11 from the Colts 40, the do-it-all backup quarterback — lined up as the punt protector — took the direct snap, stepped forward and popped a pass to linebacker Nick Bellore, who rumbled 23 yards.

Three plays later, Tebow was at quarterback and ran 3 yards for a first down, setting up Sanchez's 5-yard TD toss to Jason Hill with 27 seconds left. Tebow met Sanchez as he ran toward the sideline and the two leaped and bumped hips to celebrate the score.

"We were very efficient, effective," Tebow said. "We had some big runs, threw the ball really well in the red area and converted on third down. It was a pretty good day for us."

Indianapolis trailed 21-6 at halftime and couldn't erase a big deficit for the second straight week after coming back from 18 points to beat Green Bay last Sunday for Bruce Arians' first win while filling in for Chuck Pagano, hospitalized while being treated for leukemia.

"If you can't block and you can't tackle, you can't win," Arians said. "It's fundamentals, things we identified going into the game: fake punts, stopping the run, protecting the quarterback. Red zone offense and defense were keys to the game.

"We didn't win in any of those areas."

Luck finished 22 of 44 for 280 yards, two interceptions and a lost fumble on a day he misfired a handful of times.

"It's learning how to be consistent, and that's something I've struggled with," Luck said. "I think I played very poorly this week after a decent half of football last weekend. As a team, we have to learn to come out and consistently be good."

Greene made it 28-6 late in the third quarter on a 4-yard spin-and-run on a drive sparked by Joe McKnight's 61-yard run that gave the Jets the ball at Indianapolis 6. McKnight injured his left ankle on the play, three plays after Bilal Powell was lost with a shoulder injury.

Greene got the touchdown hat trick with a 2-yard run with 1:05 left, a few minutes after Muhammad Wilkerson forced a fumble on a sack of Luck and David Harris recovered at the Colts 14.

"When we get to full strength and when we get clicking with the parts we have right now," Jets wide receiver Chaz Schilens said, "it's not going to be funny — especially for the other teams."

NOTES: Jets CB Antonio Cromartie had two interceptions for TDs called back — one on a personal foul penalty on Aaron Maybin and another on a pass interference call on Cromartie. ... The Colts were 3 of 11 on third downs, while the Jets were 6 of 12.


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