Jay Ajayi worked his way out of head coach Adam Gase’s dog house and into the history books.
On Sunday, Ajayi became just the fourth player in NFL history to rush for more than 200 yards in a game in consecutive outings, joining an exclusive club with O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams as the only others to accomplish that feat.
It’s quite a dramatic turnaround for a player whose season started on the inactive list.
Ajayi did not travel with the Dolphins to Seattle for the season opener last month as a healthy scratch after he lost the starting job to Arian Foster.
But now that Ajayi regained that job, he’s not letting go.
Last week, when he rushed for 204 yards in a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he became the first player in the NFL this year to break 200 yards. His encore may have been even more impressive.
On Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, Ajayi rushed for 214 yards on 28 carries, ripping off the yardage in chunks from the start of the game, when his first two carries went for 10 and 11 yards each, all the way through the fourth quarter, when he broke free for a 53-yard gain.
“I definitely wanted to double up. That was something I had been saying to myself throughout the whole week, just to double up,” Ajayi told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday evening. “Don't be a one-hit wonder, because I think a lot of people kind of figured that, that I was just a guy who did it once and would fall off the scene. So I was really determined to change that mentality of how people view me.”
After rushing for just 117 yards in the first five weeks of the season (when the Dolphins went 1-4), Ajayi rushed 418 yards in the past two weeks.
“He’s done a great job of being decisive, and hitting it and getting every inch he can,” Gase said Sunday. “He’s done exactly what we’ve needed him to do.”
Gase described Ajayi as a “rhythm” type of running back, meaning it can take more than a few carries to get him going. As a play caller, Gase is learning to be patient with Ajayi.
“Just stay with him, because he’s going to find the right holes,” Gase said.
Ajayi gave a lot of the credit for his two big weeks to the Dolphins’ offensive line, which he said has set a “physical tone” early in those games. But he has worked hard to back into Gase’s good graces.
“It had a lot to do with making my opportunities count when I needed to. That was a big deal. When I got my chance to make something happen, just taking it, continuing to be consistent, continuing to prove my ability to my teammates and my coaches as well,” Ajayi said. “What happened in the first week, it occurred and then after that it was more about just putting my head down, getting back to the grind, getting back to focusing and getting back to doing what I know I can do.”
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