Jets’ Ivory towers in win over Saints

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When asked if the Jets’ 26-20 victory over his former team the Saints was special, Chris Ivory simply sported a big grin. Yet he focused on the importance of the Jets’ victory over the Saints instead of any extra motivation.

“No,” said the former Saint in reference to the victory being special. “Sure, there is something to get a win against my old team, but I wasn’t looking for any revenge. We won, and that was the most important thing.

“I knew it was a big game for us, and being it was against them (Saints), it goes hand-in-hand. I’m hungry now, and I just want to keep getting better.”

Ivory, who spent the previous three seasons with the Saints and rushed for 1,307 yards in 24 games there, amassed a game-high 139 yards on 18 carries and scored his first touchdown of the season on a 3-yard run in the second quarter that helped the Jets to a 20-14 halftime lead.

Two weeks ago in the Jets’ 30-27 overtime victory over New England, Ivory rushed for 104 yards on 34 carries, marking the first 100-yard rushing performance as a Jet and the fourth of his career.

Late in the first quarter, Ivory shook off any nerves as he scooted around right tackle on a 27-yard run that lead to the Jets taking a 3-0 lead on the first of Nick Folk’s four field goals, a 39-yarder that gave the Jets a 3-0 lead. His run was longer than any other Saints’ running back this season.

Early in the second quarter, Ivory broke free on a 52-yard run that lead to Folk’s 21-yard field goal that brought the Jets back to within 7-6 with 5:44 left in the first half. Ivory later broke free on a 30-yarder followed by an 11-yard run late in the third quarter that led to another Folk field goal and gave New York a 26-17 advantage in the early moments of the final quarter.

Ivory has been evolving into a mainstay in the Jets’ backfield after shaking off some hamstring injuries earlier this season. He believes he can shake off a rash of injuries that plagued him most of the 2012 season and throughout his career.

“Those long runs felt good,” Ivory said. “On the first one, we felt we gained back some early momentum, and we got going after that. I feel like everything is coming together. I got some holes in the third quarter and tried the make the most of it. My legs feel good, and my line did a great job in front of me.”

Jets’ rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who completed just eight of 19 passes for 115 yards, recognized the importance of the day for Ivory.

“We knew it would be special for him,” Smith said of Ivory. “He made some big runs, and they gave us life when we needed it. We’re glad we could win this for him as well.”

“It was a good day for him, and we knew what it meant to him,” Jets’ center Nick Mangold said. “Sure, he wanted to prove something to them. It is a good win for us, especially with the bye week and we can get some people healthy and keep going. Chris (Ivory) gives us hat big workhorse back we need.”

“Chris Ivory is a big back for us,” Jets’ guard Willie Colon said. ‘If we get him going, the sky’s the limit. We take pride in him, and he takes pride in us.”

Moments after the game, Ivory did mingle and chat with several of his former teammates on the field.

He said he didn’t hear any negative comments either before or after the game.

“It was good to see my old teammates afterward,” Ivory said. “We all knew we were competing to win the game. I really didn’t get any texts or hear any trash talk either before or after the game from anyone.

“I had a tough run there at times. But I got a lot of compliments from the old guys. It was a good feeling. (Saints coach Sean) Payton complimented me afterward, and he thought I ran the ball well.

“I just happy everything went well today, and now we have to keep moving forward.”