The New England Patriots have been a passing team for as long as I can remember. Or at least, they’ve been a passing team as long as Tom Brady has been around.
Well, that all changed on Saturday night when they ground-and -pounded the Indianapolis Colts into submission. That kind of running game is exactly what they will need when they go to Denver and face Peyton Manning and the high-scoring Denver Broncos in the 2014 AFC Championship Game.
New England ran for a whopping 234 yards and six touchdowns against the Colts. LeGarrette Blount had his best game as a Patriot, Stevan Ridley actually held onto the ball, and even Shane Vereen got in on the act. Sure, a wet field and an early lead played a part in all the running, but the Patriots have been on the verge of this kind of game all season.
Brady isn’t the same kind of quarterback that he once was, and as the year was coming to a close, it started to become clear that the running game was going to be the key to success in the playoffs.
That will be especially true against the Broncos. Manning and that offense are so explosive that the only way to keep them from running away with it is to keep him off the field. If you run the ball and limit the amount of plays that are run in the game, you can keep a dominant offense from putting up huge numbers. It’s about as basic a football strategy as you can have, but it works.
The Patriots will have their hands full against the Broncos, especially in Denver. But, if they get the running game going like they did against the Colts, they will ride the legs of Blount and co. all the way to the Super Bowl.