Jets' Crowell looks to build off record-setting performance
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Isaiah Crowell kept hitting the holes cleared by the New York Jets' offensive line and ran.
And, ran some more.
All the way into the franchise record books.
Crowell rushed for a whopping 219 yards on just 15 carries in the Jets' 34-16 victory over Denver last Sunday, setting the team mark for yards rushing in a single game.
"Every time I got the ball, it was like at any given time, it could be a big play," Crowell said Friday. "That really was because of my offensive line. I feel like they did their part, so I've got to credit them."
Big rushing performances are usually the product of great O-line play. But Crowell also deserves some kudos for his big day.
After all, he became the fourth player in NFL history to run for 200 or more yards on 15 or fewer attempts, and his 14.6-yard average was the highest by any player with at least 15 carries.
"It hasn't been like that since high school," a smiling Crowell said. "In high school, I think I ran for 300 yards or something like that and five touchdowns in a playoff game, but not since then. Each level, you progress and the talent level progresses, so it hasn't been like that since then."
Crowell broke the Jets record of 210 yards rushing previously set by Thomas Jones in 2009. He was selected the AFC offensive player of the week and also won the league's weekly award for FedEx Ground Player of the Week.
That's quite a week for Crowell, and one that will be tough to top Sunday against Indianapolis.
"When you do something like that, you're kind of unsure like, dang, how'd that happen?" Crowell said. "You've just got to move forward and try keep progressing as you go and just know that every game is not going to be like that."
Crowell has been nursing an ankle injury this week, and is listed as questionable on the Jets' injury list. He sat out practice Wednesday and Thursday, but returned on a limited basis Friday — a promising sign. Still, coach Todd Bowles said the running back would be a "Sunday decision" as to whether he'll play.
After scampering all those yards last weekend, it's no wonder Crowell's ankle is a bit sore.
"We'll work him out Sunday and see where he's at," Bowles said.
It's expected that Crowell will be ready to roll by the time the game kicks off. Whether he'll come anywhere close to the performance he had last Sunday is another story.
He had 21 yards on three carries in the first quarter. On his first handoff of the second quarter, Crowell ran for a 77-yard touchdown that was the second-longest scoring run in team history — 1 yard shy of Bruce Harper's record set in 1983.
Crowell has scored on runs of 77 and 62 yards in his first five games with the Jets, joining Leon Washington as the only players in team history to have two TD runs of 60 yards or more.
He had a 54-yard run in the third quarter, giving him nine plays of 50 yards or more to lead NFL running backs in that category since 2015.
As he approached the team mark late in the game, running backs coach Stump Mitchell pulled him aside to let him know he was on the verge of something special.
"He was like, 'You can get it since you're so close,'" Crowell recalled. "That's what I was chasing. When I did get it, he told me and I was happy about it, but it wasn't like a goal or anything. It just happened."
The mark was set on his final carry of the game, a 36-yard run in the fourth quarter.
The performance also wiped away some of the controversy surrounding Crowell the previous few weeks .
He was fined $13,369 by the NFL and scolded by Bowles after he wiped the football against his backside after scoring a touchdown at Cleveland — where he spent his first four seasons — two weeks ago. Crowell cashed in on that mistake, though, getting an endorsement deal from a company that makes toilet paper alternatives for men.
With the type of game he had last Sunday, surely there were some more off-field opportunities to pad the bank account, right?
"I prefer to not talk about my endorsements," Crowell said after a big chuckle.
Despite the gaudy final rushing total, Crowell insists he isn't spoiled to the point where anything less than 200 yards now is just an OK game.
"Nah, because I know that was like an amazing game," he said. "You can have 50 yards and as long as you win the game, it was a good game. You could have a bad game, but did enough to help your team win so that's really what it's all about."
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