A New England Patriots record that has stood for two decades could fall next Monday night.
Running back LeGarrette Blount enters the Patriots’ matchup with the Baltimore Ravens needing just one touchdown rush to tie Curtis Martin’s single-season franchise record of 14, which the Hall of Famer set in 1995 and equaled in 1996.
“He has run well for us,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. “He?s made a lot of tough yards. He?s also made some big plays for us, has ripped off some big, explosive plays. He?s been out there every week. Yeah, he?s done a good job. He?s had a solid year for us, no doubt about it.”
Blount is in the midst of the most productive season of his career. The 30-year-old has carried the ball 230 times through 12 games, cruising past his previous career high of 201. And while he likely won’t come close to Corey Dillion’s Patriots record of 1,635 rushing yards, Blount needs just 51 yards to surpass his personal best of 1,007, which he posted as a rookie in 2008.
“I don?t know if there?s a lot of guys really that I would compare him to right off the bat,” Belichick said when asked for a historical comparison for Blount’s blend of power running and athleticism. “You see him making some tough runs and running guys over, and then you see him hurdling guys like in the Miami game, and you see an open-field run like he had last week against the Rams where he kind of, you know, spun the safety around and ran by him.
“So he?s got a good combination of moves and style. It?s not all one thing. He?s effective. He?s got an effective stiff-arm. He can be elusive, he can be powerful. And he?s got good run vision. It?s hard to find another guy like him.”
Blount has played in every game this season after missing the tail end of 2015 with a hip injury. He’s been the primary ball-carrier in a three-headed Patriots rushing attack that also features James White and Dion Lewis.
“He came back from last year?s injury situation and tried to put himself in good position to start the year healthy and on the right foot, and I think he did that,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said on a conference call. “He?s always been somebody who?s been an unselfish guy. We kind of play a lot of different ways around here. Sometimes he gets the ball a ton, and sometimes he doesn?t get it much, and he?s never complained or said one thing about that. He just embraces whatever his role is in the game and tries to do it the best he can.
“He?s a big guy, runs fast, is hard to tackle, takes care of the football — we trust him with that. He?s really come up big and produced in a lot of critical situations for us over the years. I?m happy for his success and look forward to continuing to allow him to impact our offense positively as we finish out the last four games.”
Making headway on the ground won’t be easy against the Patriots’ next opponent, however. The Ravens’ defense has allowed just 886 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns this season — best in the NFL in both categories.
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