FOXBORO, Mass. — How valuable is Dion Lewis to the New England Patriots’ offense? Consider this: In games in which Lewis has been active over the past two seasons, New England is a perfect 14-0.
That’s right, the Patriots have yet to lose when their diminutive but dynamic running back is healthy.Â They won all seven games Lewis played last season before tearing his ACL in Week 9, and the team is undefeated since he made his long-awaited return in Week 11 of this season.
Lewis will look to extend that winning streak to 15 games Saturday night as he makes his NFL playoff debut against the Houston Texans in the divisional round.
“He’s just another productive player for us on offense,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Thursday. “Another good skill player. We’ve won a lot of games without him, but we’ve also won a lot of games with him, and he’s given us a lot of production in those games.”
Since making his season debut Nov. 20 against the San Francisco 49ers, the 5-foot-8 Lewis has 64 carries for 283 yards while also catching 17 passes for 94 yards. His 50 touches over the final three weeks of the regular season ranked second among Patriots skill players behind fellow running back LeGarrette Blount, who had 51.
“It’s just like having another receiver, another tight end,” Belichick said. “… We’ve played some two-back sets with Dion in there with another back, whether it be (fullback James) Develin or James White. That’s just another thing the defense has to deal with.”
Lewis represents one-third of a New England rushing attack that is among the most productive and versatile in the NFL. Blount led the league in rushing touchdowns this season (18) and ranked ninth in rushing yards (1,161) while employing a bruising, old-school style much different from Lewis’ quick bursts and jump cuts.
And White, while not much of a running threat, caught 60 passes during the regular season, fourth-most among all running backs and the most by a Patriots back in the Belichick era.
“(Lewis) is certainly a different type of runner than LeGarrette as an inside runner,” Belichick said. “It’s the same plays, but they’re not really the same because you’ve got a guy carrying the ball that’s (much smaller). LeGarrette’s got his style of running, and Dion’s got his style of running. It’s definitely not the same.
“It’s great to have him. He’s been a very productive player for us. The more of them you have, the better off we are.”
Thumbnail photo viaÂ Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images