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Sunday, January 9, 2011
Tomlinson steps up -- on, and off, the field

By Jane McManus

INDIANAPOLIS -- Of all the stats swirling before the Jets faced the Colts on Saturday night, one of the most telling might have been this: In the Colts' nine playoff losses since Peyton Manning became the team's quarterback, they were outrushed on each and every occasion.

After their 17-16 loss to the Jets, make that all 10 times.

The Jets rushed for 169 yards under the Lucas Oil Stadium roof, while the Colts managed only 93 yards on the ground. The week of rest for the Jets' two starting running backs seemed beneficial, with LaDainian Tomlinson gaining 82 yards on 16 carries, and Shonn Greene adding 70 yards on 19 carries.

Tomlinson also had four receptions for 17 yards, and looked as fresh and productive as he did in the early weeks of the regular season.

"Every opportunity is precious," Tomlinson said. "For me, as an older player, you never know when [the] opportunity is going to come around again. You want to leave it all out on the field. You want to have no regrets at all."

(Rookie running back Joe McKnight, who rushed for 158 yards for the Jets the previous week against the Bills, was inactive on Saturday.)

Tomlinson's production was matched by his ability to motivate his teammates. He doesn't speak loudly, but he certainly has conviction, and a moral authority that comes with being a proven leader in the NFL for so long.

Tomlinson gave a short speech to his teammates before the game Saturday night. He emphasized how fleeting this chance was.

"There's no tomorrow," Tomlinson said he told them. "For us, we have to get it done together. No one believes in us but ourselves. For us, that's what it was about. Get it together; we're going to need every man in this circle to make a play.

"I'm pretty sure we used every man in that circle tonight."