Martin has Chargers attention

Thirty-five percent of the New York Jets' yardage was accounted for by running back Curtis Martin. His 1,942 yards from scrimmage were more than a third of the team's total of 5,619. The San Diego Chargers will therefore rely on their strength on Saturday, stopping the run.

"It is no surprise why we are here, it is because of what Curtis has done and what he has accomplished this season," Jets' center Kevin Mawae said.

Running back Curtis Martin admitted he set a goal of 1,700 yards this season, one he was so serious about that he made that number his security code to move around Weeb Ewbank Hall, where the Jets train.

He fell three yards shy of the mark so he made sure to change his security code. Of course, after telling reporters his code, people were punching 1700 into just about every code box in the building. So he pretty much had to.

At 31, Martin became the oldest back in league history to win the rushing title, surpassing Marion Motley, who did it in 1950 at the age of 30.

"Curtis Martin has obviously proven his ability in the league and is the No. 1 rusher in the NFL," linebacker Ben Leber said.

Martin has amassed 13,366 yards rushing, fourth on the All-time list, just ahead of Pittsburgh running back Jerome Bettis and a tad behind Barry Sanders who stands third with 15,269 yards rushing.

"He's not a flashy guy ... when they talk about the best guys, you don't hear his name," Bettis said of Martin. "But that's what happens when you don't self-proclaim yourself and do all that crazy stuff."

And Martin has been consistent about it. He has passed the 1,000 mark plateau for ten straight seasons, one of only two players to accomplish the feat (Sanders) and just one of those seasons was under 1,100 yards (barely at 1,094).

The focus for the Chargers this week will obviously be on Martin. With Chad Pennington's arm not at 100 percent, it is safe to say they will rely on the man who has gone about his work and gotten his yards week in and week out.

"He's a terrific player," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "And the interesting part about it is that he has been that kind of player throughout his whole career. I think he's probably playing better right now. What people don' recognize is that he's a well-built, strong guy, but he has terrific quickness and great running instincts. You don't end up where he has ended up at this juncture with regard to career rushing without being awfully good."

Martin ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the first meeting, a 34-28 Jets victory.

But Martin also has a history of playoff success. He scored three touchdowns in a 1996 AFC Divisional Playoff for New England in a 28-3 victory over Pittsburgh. Now he aims to become the second player in league history to score three or more touchdowns in each of two playoff games. Wide receiver Jerry Rice has scored three touchdowns in three playoff games (1988, 1989 & 1994).

Martin also owns the fourth longest run from scrimmage in NFL playoff history, a 78-yard run for a touchdown in New England's 1996 AFC Divisional game against Pittsburgh.

"I have a lot of respect for Curtis Martin," LaDainian Tomlinson said. "To lead the league in rushing at his age is tremendous. He's always been one of the top backs in this league for a long time. A lot of people have overlooked him, but he's always been a class guy and one of the best running backs in history. His numbers prove that, and I have lot of respect for him."

The test is on. The Jets' offensive line is one of the better units in the league and they are itching to prove that their 10-6 season was no fluke.

This is also a changed defensive team in San Diego. They have focused on the run all year long and have been rewarded with victories. They won't change that philosophy just because this is the playoffs.

"They've jelled together as a defense since we played them so I expect it to be harder and especially with the atmosphere being a playoff atmosphere, it will definitely be more intense," said Martin.


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