FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots’ loaded running back stable began to show off its full potential over the past two games.
The Patriots are averaging 4.6 yards per carry the last two weeks with Dion Lewis, who has 24 carries for 128 yards, serving as a spark plug. New England was averaging just 3.9 yards per carry in the first five weeks of the season.
One of the reasons for the recent success is the offensive line and running backs’ ability to finish plays. The Patriots’ running backs averaged 3.44 yards after contact against the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons in Weeks 6 and 7. They were averaging just 2.27 yards after contact through the first five games.
“They’re really kind of hidden yards,” head coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday morning at Gillette Stadium. “It doesn’t look like much, but when you look at second-and-5 compared to second-and-8, it really changes your play-calling. It changes your whole series in a lot of cases — not only what you call on second down but what you call on third down.
“I thought our offensive line and our backs did a much better job of finishing their runs, finishing our blocks, pushing the pile, if you will, in the last two weeks from where it was earlier in the year. Those guys have done a really good job of that, putting that extra effort into it. It’s shown up in some hidden yards. It’s not 80-yard runs, but like I said, those 2-to-3, 3-to-4 yards can make a big difference between calling a second-and-8 run and being third-and-2 or it being third-and-7. That’s big yards for us.”
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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