AFC East: Priest Holmes
The Jets, dating to last season, were 9-0 when Jones had a touchdown, and his teams had won 16 straight games when he crossed the goal line.
The AFC's leading runner scored twice Sunday against the Denver Broncos, but the Jets still lost, 34-17, at the Meadowlands.
Jones rushed for 136 yards on just 16 carries. He also had two catches for 21 yards.
Here are some Jones nuggets that illustrate the season he's having:
- With four games to play, he has a career-high 11 rushing touchdowns.
- He needs one more to tie Curtis Martin's single-season franchise record from 2004. Brad Baxter (1991), Johnny Hector (1987) and Emerson Boozer (1972) also scored 11 for the Jets.
- Jones' previous best season was nine rushing touchdowns. He has 10 rushing touchdowns and 12 total touchdowns in his past eight games.
- He eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier for the fourth consecutive season.
- His 8.6-yard average per carry on Sunday raised his season average to 4.7, the best of his nine-year career.
- Jones ripped off a 59-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, the longest scoring run of his career. He had a 61-yard run with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003, but he didn't score.
- He has scored a touchdown in six consecutive games, one off Santana Moss' franchise record from 2003. Tony Paige (1985), Boozer (1967) and Bake Turner (1964) also scored in six straight.
- Jets fullback Tony Richardson has blocked for five running backs in seven 1,000-yard campaigns. The others are Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson, Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson.
Thomas Jones is 50 yards away from reaching the 1,000-yard barrier a fourth consecutive season.
|Al Pereira/Getty Images|
|Jets running back Thomas Jones calls teammate Tony Richardson (above) 'the best fullback in the league.'|
This campaign, however, doesn't belong in the same category as the other three. He's running with more conviction.
With five games left, he already has matched his personal best of nine rushing touchdowns. His 4.4-yard average is his highest since he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003. He also has two receiving touchdowns, double his career output heading into the season.
While the first inclination is to credit the Jets' offensive line, an often overlooked benefactor is fullback Tony Richardson, whom the Jets signed as a free agent for just this purpose.
"He is the best fullback in the league hands down," Jones told reporters Friday. "He comes off the ball. He hits guys. He can catch. He can run. He can do it all."
Fifty more yards for Jones would mean Richardson has paved the way for seven 1,000-yard seasons for five different running backs. He previously blocked for Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson, Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson.
Richardson has only four touches this year (three carries and one reception), but he has touched several defenders in unkind ways.
"What I really like about Tony, prior to him getting here, was his ability to always find his man," Jets coach Eric Mangini said. "It may not have the same thump as it once did, but he is very effective at finding the person he is supposed to block, getting him taken care of and giving the back a chance."
Added Jones: "It makes a humungous difference when you have a fullback like Tony Richardson in front of you."