Xs and Os: Running on smaller D

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots totaled more than 200 rushing yards for the second game in a row, marking the first time they've accomplished the feat since 1978.

Quarterback Tom Brady touched on one main reason the club has rung up such big numbers -- opponents are daring them to run by the personnel they're putting on the field.

"We're getting a lot of nickel defense [five defensive backs]," Brady said following Sunday's 31-21 win over the Broncos. "When they put little guys out there, we have to take advantage of it."

That's exactly what happened in last week's victory over the Bills. It was almost a carbon copy Sunday against the Broncos, who were in the nickel throughout.

When the offense sees that, and it has its base personnel on the field (2 receivers, 2 tight ends, 1 running back), it wants to ground and pound.

"I think we're playing definitely a more physical style and controlling the tempo of the game by running the football," said Brady, who finished 23-of-31 for 223 yards with one touchdown. "We have to keep doing it."

While Brady didn't match Peyton Manning statistically, he was equally, if not more, effective in directing a fast-paced up-tempo attack. The Patriots rang up a franchise record 35 first downs in the game.

"We're just trying to put a lot of pressure on those guys to get their calls in and line up and play against us," Brady said of an approach that could easily be described as an offensive blitz. "We're running the ball against some very advantageous looks and we're throwing the ball against some advantageous looks. I think the important part is to be able to do both.

"You can't just throw it all day. You can't run it all day. You have to be able to do both. It's been pretty good the last few weeks."