Sunday, September 17, 2006

"Running" For Cover

It was another robust running game that made the difference in the Pats' 24-17 win over the New York J-E-T-S at New Jersey. Despite the dominance of New England through 2 1/2 Quarters (24-0), the final stats show that on nearly every measure except those related to running, the teams came out pretty much even. Thanks to a couple of circus second-half TDs by the Jets, total net yards, time of possession, number of plays, average yardage gain, even yards-per-pass were virtually identical.

However, thanks to the "Gilette Twin Blades" of Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney, the Pats achieved 8 rushing first downs to zero for the Jets. New England had 147 net rushing yards to New York's 51, and the Pats nearly doubled up the Jets on average yards per rush (3.8 to 2.1). Of course, these lop-sided comparisons speak volumes about the effectiveness of the New England front four--which stifled the meager Jets running attack at every turn.

This is a new, receiver-reduced world for the three-time Super Bowl champs, and they have the running tools to dominate their new circumstances. Most of Tom Brady's struggles--if you can really call them that--are due to the hand he has been dealt by management. He, and the likes of Jackson and Caldwell and the others will get on the same page at some point, and then this offense--steeled by this renaissance of the run--will be all the more potent.

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