The Patriots' 34-13 win on Sunday was piloted by a gun-slinging Tom Brady and a defense that wouldn't let Chris Johnson sniff anything resembling an open hole. But the big surprise for New England in Week 1 was the presence of a steady running game.
Stevan Ridley, a second-year back out of LSU, took the feature back role in the Patriots offense on Sunday and ran away from the competition. Ridley, who earned the starting job with an impressive preseason, carried the ball 21 times for 125 yards and a touchdown as the Patriots opened the season with a win.
The effort was something of a dazzling debut for Ridley, as the powerful tailback made Patriots fans quickly forget about the consistent work of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who has since relocated to Cincinnati.
While Danny Woodhead will still see meaningful time in the passing game, Ridley provides the hope that New England can finally establish a threatening ground game and take pressure off Brady. But Ridley is also making Patriots fans believe that he could well be just the third back in the past eight seasons to gain over 1,000 yards for the franchise — Green-Ellis and Corey Dillon being the others.
With well over 100 yards in his first game in the primary role, Ridley would seem primed for a 1,000-yard campaign. But questions still remain.
Will a healthy Shane Vereen take away meaningful yards from Ridley? And can The Talented Mr. Ridley hold up over the course of a 16-game season? You decide.