Yes, the Jets have been forced to throw to get back into games. And they haven't gotten ideal production out of running backs Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson.
Those negative factors have coincided with the emergence of quarterback Mark Sanchez into a dangerous passer and the presence of some outside weapons in wide receivers Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason as well as athletic tight end Dustin Keller.
Heading into Sunday night's game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sanchez has completed 63.1 percent of his throws for 886 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions for a respectable 90.9 passer rating.
"They're throwing it a little more," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Sanchez has grown, he looks good. He's very talented, he can really throw it. So, that's what they're doing right now."
The Jets rank 10th in passing, averaging 278.7 yards per game.
Conversely, their running game has regressed despite the presence of the NFL's leading active rusher in Tomlinson, who has gained 13,466 career yards.
The Jets have only attempted to run the football 73 times with just two touchdown runs while launching 120 throws.
"You look at our attempts, it's not close to where we have been the last couple of years," Jets coach Rex Ryan said during a conference call. "Your opponent has a lot to do with that as well. We've been down in a couple of games this year, so that kind of dictates that we'll have to throw the ball more than we have done in the past.
"You have to be able to run the football. It helps your defense. When you do get ahead, if you get a lead and things like that, you need to be able to run the football. I think it opens up opportunities in the passing game like the vertical passing game."
Ryan cited the Ravens as an example of a team who had earned enough respect with running back Ray Rice to dictate single-coverage outside. And rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith caught three touchdown passes from quarterback Joe Flacco.
"When you look at the Ravens game, shoot, they just came out chucking it like crazy, but part of that is due to their running game," Ryan said. "St. Louis was concerned with their running game. That allowed some opportunities down the field."
Nonetheless, Sanchez's star is definitely rising.
The former USC star has posted three consecutive games with at least a passer rating of 85 or better and two touchdown passes.
In a loss to the Oakland Raiders, Sanchez passed for a career-high 369 yards.
"Sanchez is a guy who is still growing, but can throw every ball," Ravens All-Pro free safety Ed Reed said. "That's why you're seeing a little bit more passing. Now, he's definitely a good quarterback."
Sanchez also benefits from his personnel.
Since 1983, no NFL receiver has caught more touchdown passes in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime than Holmes with five such plays.
The speedy former Pittsburgh Steelers starter has caught 10 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown.
"We know what Santonio represents," Reed said. "He brings a lot to the table."
Keller is too swift for most linebackers and safeties to cover and leads the Jets with 16 catches for 249 yards and two touchdowns.
Mason, a two-time Pro Bowl selection with the Ravens until being released as a salary-cap casualty before training camp, has 10 catches for 71 yards.
Back in the NFL after serving nearly two years for a gun charge after accidentally shooting himself in the leg at a Manhattan nightclub, Burress has contributed seven catches for 127 yards and two scores.
"I've been playing against Plaxico for a long time, and he's very respected, especially by me," Reed said. "I have so much respect for him with what he's been through. I'm glad he's back on the field."
Sanchez has led the Jets to consecutive AFC championship game appearances.
And his formidable receiving corps of Burress, Holmes and Mason has combined for 24,317 yards and 147 touchdowns, more than any other trio in the NFL.
The Ravens will be looking to shut down the Jets the old-fashioned way by harassing Sanchez, who has already been sacked nine times and doesn't have much of a running game to take the pressure off of him.
"Anytime that you can stop the run, kind of the way we play, the run will make you one-dimensional," All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "Anytime we make you one-dimensional, then we can pretty much get after your quarterback the way that we dictate. That's kind of the thing that we have had around here for many years, priding ourselves on stopping the run and making sure that nobody comes in there to create that mentality.
"Once you start letting that build up, then everything comes. Then the play-action comes open, then all those different things. If you take that one aspect away, you can really get after people's quarterback."
Ravens notebook: Foxworth placed on injured reserve
OWINGS MILLS – Veteran cornerback Domonique Foxworth was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, marking the end of his season and perhaps the close of his tenure with the Baltimore Ravens.
Foxworth had complained repeatedly that his surgically-repaired right knee hadn't completely recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered on the eve of training camp a year ago.
"It's getting worse," Foxworth said prior to being deactivated for the Ravens' 37-7 rout of the St. Louis Rams. "It hurts, it sucks."
Foxworth was picked on repeatedly during a defeat to the Tennessee Titans followed by coach John Harbaugh saying that the former University of Maryland standout was playing extremely conservatively.
"With his knee, that was a conversation we've been having for about a week now," Harbaugh said. "It really heated up on Monday. I think between the doctors and Domonique and how he feels about it and the fact that we're not really moving in the right direction. There's a chance he could be able to play at some point in time and help us. We were holding out hope that was the case, but it was moving in the other direction for whatever reason."
As a member of the NFL Players Association executive committee, Foxworth spent a lot of time during the NFL lockout attending collective bargaining agreement negotiations. He acknowledged that he was only able to rehab his knee once per day, either early in the morning or late at night.
"We talked to Domonique a lot about it," Harbaugh said. "So much of it is, ‘How does it feel? What kind of progress are we making?' It's really hard to know. We're not inside his head or his knee. He was disappointed. He wants to do everything he can to try and help the team, and he just didn't feel like he could do that on the field right now and he wasn't sure that he'd be able to do that throughout the course of the season."
Signed to a four-year, $27.2 million contract that included $16.5 million in guaranteed money, Foxworth is due a $4.4 million base salary this year and $5.6 million next season. If he's retained, he's unlikely to be back at that salary.
"I'd say it's all up in the air for everybody," Harbaugh said. "I hope he'll be here next year, too."
The Ravens are now down to five healthy cornerbacks since rookie first-round pick Jimmy Smith remains sidelined with a high left ankle sprain.
That leaves starters Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams, nickel back Chris Carr and Danny Gorrer and Chykie Brown.
"I know he didn't want to go on IR," Webb said. "He wanted to be here with the team, but certain things you have to go through. To me as a teammate, I just want to be there for him."
The Ravens don't have a plan to sign another cornerback at the moment.
"We'd probably like to have at least one more corner that is healthy, but we don't have that luxury right now," Harbaugh said. "It's definitely something we could address, just depending on what's available out there. But I'm comfortable with the guys we have. Those guys are good players."
Meanwhile, the Ravens signed linebacker Prescott Burgess to fill Foxworth's roster spot.
A former sixth-round draft pick from Michigan, Burgess led the Ravens in special-teams tackles over the past two seasons.
Burgess was needed because of inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe dealing with a strained hamstring.
"It's good to be back," Burgess said. "This is where I wanted to be. I'm just glad to get back on the field."
Shelving Foxworth had a lot to do with the injury situation at linebacker.
"We just didn't feel like we could afford to do that right now," Harbaugh said. "Especially needing a linebacker. He's been here, he knows our system and he gives us another inside linebacker with Dannell Ellerbe's hamstring situation."
INJURY UPDATES: Eight players didn't practice Wednesday, including a quartet of starters.
Offensive guard Ben Grubbs (right toe), wide receiver Lee Evans (left ankle), defensive end Cory Redding (toe) and center Matt Birk (left knee) didn't practice as well as Ellerbe, safety Haruki Nakamura (right knee), wide receiver David Reed (left shoulder) and Smith (ankle).
Evans, Grubbs and Ellerbe are regarded as game-time decisions. Grubbs has missed two consecutive games with bruising and strained ligaments. He was able to jog lightly Wednesday.
"It's not my decision," Evans said. "We'll have to see what's best all the way around. It does feel better. It's still the same. It's still some pain there. I can run. It's being able to maintain it. Yeah, it's getting better."
Nakamura, Reed and Smith will all miss this game.
Nakamura is out for a month with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament, an injury suffered against the St. Louis Rams on what he labeled as a cheap shot by Rams rookie tight end Lance Kendricks.
"It really doesn't bother me that much, it's more of a frustrating injury because it was something that didn't even need to happen," Nakamura said. "Part of a cheap shot play that had nothing to do with the play. We were 40 yards downfield, the guy pushed me in my back, and my knee slammed on the turf. I can deal with injuries, but I can't deal with ignorance. When it has nothing to do with the play, it's really frustrating."
Nakamura said he was initially concerned that it was a serious injury.
"I was in shock because I've never felt that pain before," he said. "I had no strength, it was all wobbly."
Nakamura is optimistic that he'll be back for the Ravens' game against the Houston Texans following the bye week.
"I've already made a ton of progress and they know I'm going to make a ton of progress because they know I'm a hard worker and I'm not just going to be sitting around trying to let it heal by itself," he said. "I'm going to do all the little things that I can. As of right now, we're kind of scheduling for me to come back right after the bye week. It's just one of those things that time will tell, but we're just shooting for right after the bye week."
Ellerbe is able to jog, but his left leg is sore.
"I don't think it's torn, it just grabbed on me," he said. "I don't know yet if I'm playing. I'm day to day. It's a feeling I'm not used to. I tried to wrap it up and go. I think I'll more than likely be a game-time decision. We'll know later on in the week."
Smith is out of the walking boot and isn't limping noticeably now and is looking to return in time for the Texans game on Oct. 16.
The Jets ruled out wide receiver Logan Payne with a wrist injury.
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie (bruised ribs, lung) and Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold (high ankle sprain) didn't practice.
Inside linebacker David Harris (toe) and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (shoulder) were limited.
Wide receiver Santonio Holmes (shoulder) and defensive end Mike DeVito (shoulder) participated fully.
CAN'T WAIT: Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs wore a purple "Can't Wait!" T-shirt that was sent to him by his friend, Jets linebacker Bart Scott.
Scott is selling the shirts to raise money for paralyzed Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand and presented him with a $36,000 check recently.
The shirt represents Scott's popular catch phrase.
"We all know what it means," Suggs said. "Personally sending a message to my brother, my former mentor that I also can't wait."
Suggs laughed when asked if he would be sued by Scott, who got the phrase trademarked.
"You never know with the ‘Mad Backer,' but it's his brand, his shirt," Suggs said. "It's for a good cause. We can't wait, either."
During a conference call, Scott said that LeGrand was thrilled.
"He was excited, of course," Scott said. "He never thought it was going to be that much."
LEWIS HONORED: All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Lewis recorded a game-high 10 tackles with his sack and forced fumble in the fourth quarter leading to defensive tackle Haloti Ngata returning the fumble for a 28-yard touchdown.
Lewis, 36, won the honor for the eighth time in his career, his first since the 2008 season.
MODELL UP FOR HALL: Former Ravens majority owner Art Modell was named as one of the 103 preliminary candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2012 class.
Modell is listed as one of the 18 contributors to the game.
The group of 103 is pared down to 25 semifinalists by November and 15 finalists in January.
The last time Modell was a finalist was in 2001, but his candidacy has been hurt by moving the Cleveland Browns to Maryland.
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