Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Grindout victory

Between Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan, injuries at the halfback position have been all-too-frequent for the New England Patriots.

But with undrafted rookies with compound names are picking up the slack, they never seem to notice.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for a career-high 105 yards and a touchdown, Matt Cassel ran for another and the defense looked stout again in a 20-10 victory over the division rival Buffalo Bills.

Despite two 1,000-yard rushing seasons at Mississippi, Green-Ellis didn't get the attention of any teams on draft day. On Sunday, he got the attention of the Bills' defense, pounding out consistent yardage and chewing up clock, keeping the Patriots' offense on the field for nearly 40 minutes, and the Bills' offense off it.

Even in the rare occasions that the Bills had the ball, they couldn't move it. The Patriots allowed only 60 rushing yards on 18 carries, and Trent Edwards's attempts to pass downfield, as interceptions by Ellis Hobbs and Deltha O'Neal showed, ended in failure.

The result was a victory in a true grind-out game: New England didn't score many points but allowed fewer, and did just enough on both sides of the ball to come away with the victory. It's a cliche, but after watching Sunday's game, it's the only way to describe it.

As guard Logan Mankins and fullback Heath Evans said, the Patriots are not against playing this way. And why should they? In the Super Bowl-winning seasons of 2003 and 2004, New England didn't have Randy Moss racing to catch 60-yard touchdowns, and Tom Brady wasn't using a glorified spread offense to put six points on the board in one minute or less. Instead, the Pats lengthened the drives and shortened the games. They played close, physical games, and in the end, did all it took to win.

It's another cliche, but as long as the Patriots are dusting off a familar style of play, it may be appropriate to do the same to the phrases used to describe them.

No comments: