FOXBORO, Mass. — No New England Patriots player has rushed for more touchdowns in a season than Curtis Martin, who found the end zone 14 times in 1995 and again in 1996.
If LeGarrette Blount keeps up his current pace, that record won’t stand for much longer.
Blount bulldozed his way across the goal line three more times in Sunday night’s 31-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, bringing his season touchdown total to 12 with seven games left to play. Barring injury or a precipitous drop-off in production, he easily should surpass Martin’s mark, perhaps as early as next Sunday in San Francisco.
How did a running back who’d never scored more than seven touchdowns in a season suddenly become a TD machine? Mainly by getting the job done in the red zone.
Of Blount’s 12 touchdowns this season, 10 have come on runs shorter than 10 yards and six have come on plunges from the 1-yard line. Blount’s 12-yard score against Seattle was his second-longest of the season; his other two touchdown runs Sunday both were 1-yarders.
It will be interesting to see how Dion Lewis’ impending return will affect Blount’s usage. On that note, let’s dive into some leftover notes from Sunday’s highly entertaining Super Bowl XLIX rematch.
— Lewis was added to the 53-man roster Saturday afternoon, but Patriots fans will need to wait at least another week to see him in action. The running back, who hasn’t played since tearing his ACL in Week 9 of last season, was inactive for Sunday night’s game.
“I don’t think Dion will be active (against Seattle), but he’s had a good week of practice,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in a pregame interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub. “His health is good. Hopefully we’ll keep working him in there, and when we feel like it’s the right time, hopefully we’ll be able to play him. And I’m sure he’ll be excited and ready to play.”
Blount spearheaded the Patriots’ ground attack Sunday, rushing 21 times for 69 yards. Running back James White carried twice for five yards — in addition to his four catches for 32 yards — and quarterback Tom Brady picked up seven yards on five rushing attempts.
— Before Sunday night, the most recent Patriots-Seahawks matchup was the aforementioned Super Bowl, which New England won thanks to a goal-line interception by Malcolm Butler.
Greg Bedard of Sports Illustrated on Sunday published a fascinating oral history of that game’s final drive, including accounts from Butler, Darrelle Revis, Vince Wilfork, Akeem Ayers, Dan Connolly, Shane Vereen and others.
Check it out here.
— Chris Hogan and Martellus Bennett both had a little fun with their player introductions, with Hogan harkening back to his collegiate lacrosse career and Bennett plugging his “Imagination Agency.”
It was all downhill for Hogan from there, however. The wideout had one of his worst games of the season, finishing with zero catches on three targets and struggling with downfield blocking. Perhaps the back injury that kept him out of Friday’s practice hasn’t fully healed.
— It was a quiet night overall for Patriots receivers not named Julian Edelman. While Edelman was targeted nine times and caught seven passes for 99 yards, Hogan, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell combined for just two catches on six targets for 27 yards and zero touchdowns.
Mitchell, who missed New England’s last game with a hamstring injury, also committed a false start on third down late in the fourth quarter.
— Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers replaced Jabaal Sheard in the starting lineup and put forth an all-around solid performance, finishing with two sacks. Sheard, meanwhile, did not see the field until New England’s third defensive series and played sparingly compared to how he’s typically been used this season.
“Everybody earns their playing time,” Belichick said. “Players that play the best earn the playing time. If they play better than another player, then they play more than the other player. If another player plays better than them, then they play less than the other guy. You earn your opportunities. You earn your playing time. That’s the way it is.”
Flowers now leads all Patriots defenders with four sacks — all of which have come in the last two games.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images