For most of the Tom Brady era, the passing aspect of the New England Patriots’ offense has been seemingly impeccable, opening up the running lanes for the Patriots’ tailbacks to slash through. The rushing attack was crucial to the Patriots’ success on offense, but until recent seasons, the success on the ground stemmed from the unstoppable passing attack.
Last season, the Patriots transformed into a balanced offense. This lessened the burden in passing game and highlighted the talented running crew led by Stevan Ridley. The Patriots ranked fourth in the NFL in passing attempts and second in rushing attempts in 2012. The rushing offense was among the most effective units a season ago, and this year’s running crew is expected to be even more dangerous because of their remarkable depth.
In the Patriots’ first game of the 2013 preseason, the offense presented a heavy dose from the running department in their win over the Philadelphia Eagles. In the opening drive, the Patriots were able to drive 80 yards for the score without Brady firing a single pass.
Ridley broke off a 62-yard run in the first play from scrimmage. LeGarrette Blount was handed the rock for the next three plays, rushing for 12 yards as he carried the Patriots to the six-yard-line. Ridley then finished off the drive by gaining five yards and then punching it from the one-yard-line to give the Patriots an early touchdown lead.
Ridley and Blount were effective throughout the game in the limited plays they saw. Blount rushed for 101 yards on just 11 carries, including a nifty 51-yard TD run. Ridley collected 92 yards on a mere eight attempts. Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen also carried the ball for the Patriots, collecting 14 yards in four rushing attempts and picking up 12 yards in three attempts respectively.
The contest may be thought of as just a dress rehearsal because it was only a preseason game. Nevertheless, the Patriots’ tailbacks were able to showcase their skills to the Eagles’ defense, who were no match for the Patriots’ offense.
Overall, the Patriots threw 38 passes and rushed the ball 31 times. In the modern day quarterback-driven league, carrying the ball for almost as many passing attempts is unheard of. Yet, the Patriots were able to pound the rock all game because they have one of the best offensive lines in the league and one of the most skillful running corps.
Given the ability of the offensive line, opponents should be weary against the rush from a balanced Patriots offense.