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James Ihedigbo: ‘There’s nothing to downplay’ against the Jets

11.10.11 at 2:05 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Forget the cliche: “Just another game.” This week’s game is more than that. The Jets know it. The Patriots know it.

And on Thursday, Patriots safety James Ihedigbo admitted it.

“There’s nothing to downplay,” Ihedigbo said. “There’s two 5-3 teams that are rivals in the same division, fighting for the same thing. So, there’s nothing to downplay about it. We definitely embrace it and embrace the challenge in front of us. And know that for us to win games like this, you have to play your best football.

“You’re always going to face adversity during the season. Losing two games in a row is not what you plan for but when it happens, you have to look at it, look at the mistakes you made and continue to press forward because if you dwell on it, two can turn to four quick. We’re focused. We’re focused on getting a win this week.”

What has to happen for the Patriots to get things turned around in a hostile environment? Getting a big play or two, or many, would be a good start.

“We’ve definitely talked as a defense,” Ihedigbo said. “Games like this, where lots is riding on the line and it’s a big game, you win games like this on how you practice during the week. And we made it a goal to have our best week of practice and our hardest week of practice. [Wednesday] was a step in the right direction.”

The Patriots played solid defense for the first three quarters on Sunday, and even got one of those very big plays – a Kyle Arrington interception in the end zone – before they melted down in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter.

“We’re very close and we’re looking to capitalize on that this week,” Ihedigbo said. “Big games like this, guys make big plays and step up. And that’s what it’s about and that’s we’re calling on as a team, and especially as a defense, to make game-changing plays this week.”

Ihedigbo could be called upon to make one of those big plays this Sunday night at his old stomping grounds in the swamps of Jersey. We know one target for Ihedigbo this week – running back Shonn Greene. He’s the man asked to take the weight of the offense off the shoulders of Mark Sanchez.

“They’ve really gotten their running game going,” Ihedigbo said. “Shonn Greene is a downhill runner and is running great, with a lot of power, finishing his runs. That sets up everything they want to do on offense when you have your running game going like that. Our guys up front, Mayo, Vince, they’re going to be ready to make plays in the run game.”

To Ihedigbo’s point, starting with the Patriots game on Oct. 9, when he ran 21 times for 83 yards and a touchdown, Greene has picked it up. He’s averaged 20 carries and 86 yards in the four games, the last three being wins. Against Miami and San Diego, he broke off runs of 20 and 24 yards, respectively.

Read More: James Ihedigbo, Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots, New York Jets
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