ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – At the end of the Patriots’ loss to Baltimore, it appeared that the team had entirely forgotten about the handoff to Stevan Ridley. He was ignored, abandoned, with the Patriots concentrating their energy on the pass and on Danny Woodhead.
It didn’t work.
So, in the intervening week, the Patriots made the decision to emphasis the run, to get back to it. And with the Bills playing into that strategy – wanting the Patriots to run – New England obliged.
Against the Bills, Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden combined for 243 yards rushing and three touchdowns, the offense carried by triple-digit performances by each of the two Patriots running backs, as the Patriots beat the Bills 52-28 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
“I think they were really challenging us to run the ball,” Tom Brady said. “They had some little guys on the field with our big personnel groupings. At that point you had to try to take advantage of it. You can’t just keep throwing it into heavy pass defense. So we ran it.”
It was the first time the Patriots have had two running backs over 100 yards in a stunning 30 years, since Nov 23, 1980, when Don Calhoun (106) and Vagas Ferguson (100) did it.
But getting there took a commitment to the run, one that was hardly assured when the Patriots went down by two touchdowns early in the third quarter. They could have gone to the air. Instead, the Patriots ran on five of eight plays in the ensuing drive, gaining 52 of the 80 yards on the drive that cut the Buffalo lead to seven points.
“It was good to get your number called,” Ridley said. “It’s good that they leaned on the running backs this week. We went out there and just made plays when they called our number. That’s all we can do. When they call our number, we have to go out there and be the players that we are.”