Patriots theme: Stop the run

November, 18, 2011
11/18/11
5:00
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Every week during the season, a certain theme seems to manifest itself in the Patriots' locker room. It's one that is often a result of something coach Bill Belichick tells players in team meetings.

For this week, one of the big themes is to stop the run.

The Chiefs enter Monday night's game averaging 124.4 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 10th in the NFL. Patriots defenders hope to limit the Chiefs in that area, which would force backup quarterback Tyler Palko to make plays with his arm.

"It's a little bit of a different mentality, definitely the 9-on-7 type of game where you have to be prepared to play the run," veteran defensive end Andre Carter said Friday. "Of course, they'll have screens and draws. It's always important to know your opponent and be aware they do have a scrambling quarterback. There's no telling if they'll have naked boot[legs] or certain trick plays, so we're trying to be disciplined as much as we can, but at the same time play our game."

Four-year veteran Jackie Battle leads the Chiefs with 87 carries on 403 yards, with Bill Belichick comparing his style of play to Browns running back Peyton Hillis. Battle is 6-foot-2 and 238 pounds, so he's a bigger back with power.

Meanwhile, Dexter McCluster (5-8, 170) drew comparisons to Reggie Bush in terms of style of play -- he is a threat as a rusher (291 yards, 63 carries) and receiver (29 catches) -- while 12-year veteran Thomas Jones fills out the three-headed attack.

"These guys are going to run the ball," Belichick said. "It doesn’t matter who the back is. It doesn’t matter what the score is. They’ve lost a couple games [and] they’ve run it in those. They’ve won games [and] they’ve run it a lot in those. They run it all the time against everybody. You definitely have to stop the run game with these guys."

That theme came through loud and clear on Friday.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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