EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Shonn Greene rushed for a career-high 161 yards — his first 100-yard effort in eight games dating back to last December — and three touchdowns to lead a potent New York Jets rushing attack, and Mark Sanchez threw a pair of short touchdown passes as Jets beat the Indianapolis Colts 35-9 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
The Jets (3-3) rushed for 252 yards overall, their first 200-yard rushing game since Jan. 2, 2011, against the Bills, as they moved to .500 heading into next week’s AFC East showdown at the Patriots. The Colts (2-3) failed to score a touchdown in a regular season game for just the third time since the 2003 season.
The Jets rushed for just 415 yards in their first five games this season but had little trouble getting their “ground and pound” attack untracked against a Colts defense that was missing linebacker Robert Mathis (left knee) and was further weakened when defensive end Cory Redding exited with a knee injury in the third quarter.
Greene, whose longest run of the season entering Sunday was a 14-yarder, busted off runs of 21, 19 and 10 yards (the latter for a touchdown in the second quarter) and displayed a surprisingly deft spin move to elude a tackler at the line of scrimmage on his 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Backups Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight combined to rush for 76 yards (61 on a single run by McKnight) on the series Greene capped with his four-yard scoring run. However, both Powell (shoulder) and McKnight (ankle) were hurt on the series and did not return.
Given plenty of time to throw for the first time in weeks, Sanchez (11 for 18 for 82 yards) avoided the mistakes that cost the Jets a chance at an upset of the unbeaten Texans Monday night and did more than enough to quiet the calls for Tim Tebow. Sanchez tossed a pair of 5-yard touchdowns, one to rookie Stephen Hill and another to Jason Hill.
Tebow contributed as well Sunday by throwing a 23-yard pass to linebacker Nick Bellore off a fake punt to set up Sanchez’s touchdown pass to Jason Hill.
Adam Vinatieri kicked three field goals, including boots of 47 yards and 50 yards, to account for the Colts’ offense. Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck (22 of 44 for 280 yards with two interceptions and one fumble) was harassed throughout the game by a swarming Jets defense that sacked him four times. He overthrew Coby Fleener in the end zone in the first quarter and was intercepted in the end zone by Ellis Lankster to end the Colts’ final threat in the fourth quarter.
Notes: By going 11 for 18, Sanchez ended a streak of four straight games in which he completed less than 50 percent of his passes. Prior to Sanchez, only two starting Jets quarterbacks in the last 20 years had completed less than 50 percent of their passes in two straight games: Kellen Clemens in 2007 and Browning Nagle in 1992. … Jets rookies Quinton Coples, a first-round pick in April, and Antonio Allen, a seventh-round pick who was making his NFL debut, each recorded their first career sacks. … Reggie Wayne recorded his 900th career reception late in the third quarter. He is the 14th NFL player to reach the milestone. … The Colts didn’t score a touchdown in a 9-6 win over the Browns on Sept. 7, 2003, or in a 17-3 loss to the Jaguars last Nov. 13.