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Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Burfict confident in Bengals run D vs. Jets

By Coley Harvey

CINCINNATI -- If the New York Jets have plans to run the football Sunday, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has this simple message: scrap them.

"They're going to figure out probably in the first 15, 20 snaps that running's going to be pretty hard against our front seven," Burfict said Wednesday.

Vontaze Burfict
The Bengals' Vontaze Burfict leads the league with 74 tackles.
The second-year linebacker, one who clearly isn't short on confidence in his eighth-ranked run defense, had just been asked about the Jets' proclivity for running the football this season. Just last week against the New England Patriots, the Jets ran the ball 52 times. On average, they are averaging 31.3 rushes per game, the fifth-highest average of any team this season.

Part of the Jets' desire to run the football has to do with the teams they've faced. The Bills and Patriots had gaps in defense the Jets felt they could exploit. In last week's overtime win over New England, running back Chris Ivory ran the ball 34 times. Against Buffalo in Week 3, Bilal Powell carried it 27 times.

As prolific as that running back duo can be, they also feature contrasting styles. Ivory is more of a power back; Powell looks to get to the edge more often and break free on longer runs in wider pace. Regardless how they run, though, Burfict sees them as one challenge he looks forward to shutting down.

"They're regular running backs," Burfict said. "One has speed and one has power. So whoever it is [with the ball], you just have to wrap up and all 11 get to the ball."

In that sense, preparation for the Ivory-Powell combination will be similar to preparing for Buffalo. Along with trying to stop Fred Jackson, Cincinnati had to game-plan for C.J. Spiller and even third-string back Tashard Choice. The Bills also had a mobile quarterback in former practice squad player Thad Lewis. Early in that game, he ran the read-option and gained key yards.

By halftime, though, the Bengals realized that they didn't have to focus on the run and the read-option. With the lead, they felt they could sit back and focus on remaining firm in their pass defense instead.

Buffalo gained 130 yards on the ground, but only 44 of them came in the second half.

Last weekend, the Bengals held the Detroit Lions' running game, headed by Reggie Bush, in check. Between Bush and a hobbled Joique Bell, they only allowed 77 yards on 25 carries. In addition to Burfict's play, Cincinnati was supported against the run by linebackers Rey Maualuga and James Harrison.

"The run was a piece of cake," Burfict said. "I felt like the way me and Rey are taking care of the run this year, we're leaving the offense to be one-dimensional, which is passing. And passing on our D-line and our secondary is tough."

He is right about that. The Bengals rank 13th in the league in pass defense, allowing 236.4 yards per game in the air. Until Detroit's Matthew Stafford threw for 357 yards Sunday, they had not allowed a 300-yard passer for 20 consecutive games. It had been the NFL's longest active streak.