Sunday, September 26, 2010
Green-Ellis steps up at right time
By Mike Reiss
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When it comes to BenJarvus Green-Ellis' running style, one word sums it up best.
Green-Ellis banged his way to 98 yards on 16 carries -- an impressive 6.1-yard average -- spearheading a revived Patriots rushing attack that totaled an even 200 yards in Sunday's win over the Bills. He also made one of the heads-up plays of the day, recovering an unconventional onside kick attempt by the Bills late in the fourth quarter.
When it comes to running style, the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Green-Ellis won't often sprint past defenders. He's more likely to decisively burst through a hole and run over them.
"He gets it downhill, he finds what's there to get, and keeps positive yards," center Dan Koppen said. "He's a great running back to block for."
A dose of Green-Ellis, combined with a powerful push from the offensive line against a Bills defense still adjusting to a new 3-4 scheme, was exactly what the Patriots' offense needed Sunday.
A commitment to the run was a crucial part of the offensive game plan. When the game could have swung in either direction, the Patriots' running game settled things down and helped create more balance.
"We set out to run the ball every week, and today we were able to execute it. When we're able to run it, it helps everything else," Koppen said.
Green-Ellis, a former rookie free agent who is carving out a larger role in the team's offense this season, was thrust into lead duty early in the third quarter when veteran Fred Taylor left the game with a toe injury and did not return. The Patriots also sprinkled in Danny Woodhead (3 rushes, 42 yards) in a third-down role, and called on veteran Sammy Morris (6 rushes, 19 yards) more in the second half.
Any talk of the running game should also include the blocking up front, with left tackle Matt Light, left guard Dan Connolly, Koppen, right guard Stephen Neal and right tackles Sebastian Vollmer and Mark LeVoir controlling the line of scrimmage, along with tight ends Alge Crumpler and Rob Gronkowski.
"I was just trying to run through the holes they created," said Green-Ellis, whose words reflected his running style -- straightforward and direct. "I didn't want us to lose any ground [when Taylor went out]."
With Taylor nagged by a toe injury in recent weeks, Green-Ellis could become an even more important part of the team's offense.
If he runs like he did Sunday, the Patriots shouldn't miss a beat.
|Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis took over when Fred Taylor left the game, gaining 98 yards on 16 carries.
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.