Behind LeGarrette Blount (3 TDs), Patriots ran away with it
FOXBOROUGH — When LeGarrette Blount stepped onto the field in the waning minutes of the Patriots’ win Sunday, two touchdowns to his name and the game well in hand, there was one thought on his mind with the ball on the Jacksonville 1-yard line.
“Score a touchdown,” Blount said with a laugh. “That’s the goal. Score points. That’s my mentality. That’s what we do. We go out there and as an offense, you want to score as many points as you can.”
Mission accomplished, then, in New England’s 51-17 thrashing of the Jaguars at Gillette Stadium. Blount found a hole on the right side for his third touchdown of the day, a career high, and the last of his 78 rushing yards, a total he hasn’t topped in more than a year. He even added a catch for 14 yards.
He had 19 touches in his first regular work of the season. He sat out because of a suspension Week 1 against the Steelers, then ran the ball just twice for 4 yards last week against the Bills.
So bouncing back and resuming his work as the team’s No. 1 running back after Dion Lewis (8 carries, 37 yards) effectively had filled that role to start the season was a welcomed call to duty for Blount.
“You always want to play. You always want to go out there and be with your guys, go out there and perform,” Blount said. “It’s always good to know they have that confidence in you and know they like you enough and trust you enough to go out there and play football.”
It was the first real glimpse of the damage Blount and Lewis can do when they’re both rolling. They’re two very different backs — Blount, listed at 6 feet and 250 pounds, will run through defensive lines and is a go-to guy in short-yardage situations. Lewis, 5-8 and 195, is small and shifty. He’s been doing a decent amount of pass catching, too, picking up 30 yards on five catches Sunday.
Blount liked the comparison of this Patriots duo to Warrick Dunn (5-9, 187) and Mike Alstott (6-1, 248), a running back tandem for the Buccaneers in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
“They were two of the best to ever have that kind of running style, with the big back and the other back,” Blount said. “Me and Dion are kind of doing our own thing, you know what I’m saying? We complement each other really well. He does his things really well, I do my things really well. That’s a perfect combination. You can’t beat it.”
The Jaguars certainly couldn’t. Blount’s last score capped a slow, methodical, clock-killing drive: 17 plays (nine rushes, seven pass attempts, one sack) over 9 minutes and 47 seconds.
Still, though, Tom Brady and the rest of New England’s weapons were playing late with a big lead in a game in which the home team never punted. The Patriots call it “playing 60 minutes.” Others call it the Patriots Revenge Tour.
Blount credited Brady with helping create that mind-set.
“He tells everybody to make sure you don’t ever take your foot off the gas. Just keep going,” Blount said. “We come in at halftime, we come back out. It’s 0-0 no matter what the score is. That’s the mentality he has. It’s contagious.”
Coach Bill Belichick and Brady spoke to that as well.
“One of our big themes this week was to start fast, play 60 minutes, and play hard all the way through,” Belichick said. “As the game went on at halftime and into the third and fourth quarter, we just kept reminding everyone about playing 60 minutes and finishing the game and playing well all the way through. I thought the players did a good job of that. They competed hard all the way.”
Added Brady: “We talked all week about, you know, from start to finish, being at our best execution-wise, concentration, being disciplined out there, and I think we accomplished that.”
But nobody is perfect, Blount acknowledged. Maybe the running backs missed a hole here or there, or maybe Brady didn’t execute every throw perfectly — “even though he doesn’t really miss any of those,” Blount noted.
“But you never know. We didn’t play a perfect game. There’s some things we have to tweak here and there,” Blount said. “There’s a couple of times when we kicked [for] 3 and we probably could’ve had 7.
“We’re not perfect. But so far, we’re good. Good enough to be 3-0.”