FOXBOROUGH - The rushing yards didn’t matter much to BenJarvus Green-Ellis. After last night’s 34-3 victory against the Chiefs, the Patriots running back said he doesn’t pay attention to the numbers.
His 20 carries for 81 yards rank as the most of any Patriots tailback since Oct. 9 against the Jets. In that game, Green-Ellis registered the only 100-yard rushing performance for the Patriots this season (136).
For a team that has Tom Brady at quarterback, the running game may not register the same level of importance, but its presence has been necessary, if not unpredictable.
A sluggish start for the Patriots last night led to spotty production in the first half, which has been a problem.
“We’ve got to do a better job of starting fast,’’ Green-Ellis said. “We didn’t really start playing good football until almost the second half.’’
The inconsistency has been apparent in the running game, the Patriots having struggled to find much of a rhythm.
The Patriots entered last night’s game averaging 105.9 rushing yards a game, 19th in the league. However, if the Patriots were looking for an opportunity to get well, they had the right opponent.
Only six teams in the NFL have allowed more rushing yards than the Chiefs, who entered last night giving up an average of 134 yards a game.
In the first half, the Patriots were held to 52 yards on 12 carries. Green-Ellis picked up a few short gains, but couldn’t break free for more than 5 yards.
Danny Woodhead had a 12-yard carry in the first half and finished the game with five carries for 27 yards. Rookie Shane Vereen picked up his first career carries, running for 39 yards on eight carries in the fourth quarter and scoring his first NFL touchdown.
Green-Ellis, Woodhead, and Vereen accounted for 147 yards on 33 carries, which is the second most this season.
Offensive lineman Brian Waters said the group’s blocking deserved the same rating as the rest of the game.
“It was touch-and-go there and at some points it was really good and there were some points where we weren’t as productive as we wanted to be,’’ Waters said. “That’s something we’re going to continue to work at and hopefully as the season goes on we’ll continue to get better at that.’’
Green-Ellis carried the bulk of the load, despite battling a toe injury the last few weeks. Veteran running back Kevin Faulk was inactive last night, and rookie Stevan Ridley didn’t take a snap.
One week after the Patriots were held to 60 yards on 28 carries against the Jets, they are seeing improvements. Green-Ellis said his biggest concern was getting the victory. Everything else will figure itself out, he said.
“I just like going out there and competing against other guys,’’ Green-Ellis said.Monique Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @monwalker.