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Monday, January 3, 2011
Green-Ellis outruns an entire division

By Tim Graham

Before the season, if I'd have given you eight guesses to predict the AFC East's only 1,000-yard rusher, chances are you wouldn't have gotten the right answer.

Of all the players to choose from -- Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown, LaDainian Tomlinson, Shonn Greene, Fred Jackson, Marshawn Lynch, C.J. Spiller, Fred Taylor, Laurence Maroney -- somebody buried on his team's depth chart topped them all.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis
BenJarvus Green-Ellis finished the season with 1,008 rushing yards and 13 TDs.
Ladies and gentlemen, BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the AFC East's only 1,000-yard rusher.

Seventeen players rushed for at least 1,000 yards, but Green-Ellis was alone in the division. He finished with 1,008 yards. His 13 touchdowns ranked second in the league.

It was one of a few surprising stats for AFC East breakout performers this year.

But a few notables fell short of milestones.

Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Cameron Wake went into the final weekend with the NFL sacks lead, but he was surpassed by Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali. Wake finished third with 14 sacks.

Patriots running back Danny Woodhead needed 93 yards to reach 1,000 from scrimmage, but he left Sunday's game against the Dolphins with a head injury after gaining just 19 yards. Woodhead did break the club record for rushing average at 5.68 yards, edging Don Calhoun.

Buffalo Bills receiver Steve Johnson, a 2008 seventh-round draft choice, needed another touchdown catch to tie the franchise record of 11 held by Billy Brooks, but the Bills' offense was blanked. Johnson eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards earlier.

Established stars attained some milestones.

As expected, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady won the passing crown with a 111.0 rating. He threw an NFL-high 36 touchdowns and an NFL-low (among qualifying passers) four interceptions.

Brady also extended his streak of attempts without an interception to 335. He'll pick that back up in September.

Because of Brady's efficiency, the Patriots broke the record for fewest turnovers. The finished with 10, three fewer than the Dolphins and New York Giants from 2008 and two fewer than the Chiefs in the strike-shortened 1982 season.

Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall had his streak of 100 reception seasons snapped at three (as did the deactivated Wes Welker), but Marshall did gain over 1,000 yards a fourth straight time.

Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo finished as the unofficial tackles leader with 175.

And for the rookies:

New England's Rob Gronkowski had 10 touchdown catches to tie Antonio Gates and Marcedes Lewis for the most among all tight ends.

Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty had seven interceptions, one behind Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed for the league lead.