FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- From the beginning, it was the physical type of game you'd expect from the AFC East's heavyweights: a battle in the trenches.
However, the tone the Patriots set against the Jets in their 30-21 win on Sunday afternoon was previewed in their week of practice leading up to the game, which included an unusual full-padded Thursday session.
"We had a good week. We got after it Thursday physically. Everything looked pretty good," guard Logan Mankins said after the game. "We were hitting. We had a good, physical practice."
Mankins and the Patriots' offensive line paved the way for running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis to set career highs with 136 rushing yards on 27 carries, a 5 yard-per-carry average that included two touchdown runs. After the game, the compliments for the fourth-year rusher were flowing from the group in the trenches.
"Bennie, he's a great guy to block for," Mankins said. "He's going to read the play out, he's going to find the right hole. He's not going to fumble. He's going to do the right things and he's going to give you everything he's got."
"The first thing you notice about him is that he just works so hard. He tries to get every yard," guard Brian Waters said. "He definitely is always trying to run the ball the right way. You can count on him finishing every run."
With the Patriots holding a slim six-point lead with seven minutes to go in the game, the running game came through again. On third down, a 14-yard direct snap to Green-Ellis kept the clock-killing series alive. The drive later stalled in the red zone, leading to a field goal, but left the Jets with too little time to mount a comeback.
"That's always nice. You want to end the game that way," Mankins said. "(But) we'd like to have gotten that last first down and just killed it that way. ... We're supposed to go out and finish the game when it's handed over to us."
While successful in their ground-and-pound approach, the New England offensive line struggled at times in the passing game to protect quarterback Tom Brady, who was sacked four times and was on the ground for much of the afternoon.
"It wasn't as pretty as we'd like it to be," Mankins concluded. "I think we had too many mental errors. We confused the [defensive] line a few times. Tom got hit a few too many times. But overall we got the job done when we needed to and pulled out a (win)."