FOXBOROUGH — LeGarrette Blount had one more crease to run through. And this time there wasn’t an offensive lineman in sight.
Emerging from the showers long after the last tote of his 29-carry, 129-yard rushing effort in Sunday’s 27-10 win over the Redskins, the Patriots’ beefy tailback was met with another slew of bodies.
He quickly sized up the situation and instead of slamming into the crowd — his modus operandi on the field — he simply said, “Excuse me,” and a lane opened up.
But nobody in the pack surrounding his locker was looking for a pound of flesh. They just wanted to know what was on his mind after he helped the Patriots improve to 8-0 on a day when fellow tailback Dion Lewis exited early with a knee injury.
Blount was in beast mode from the get-go, running behind an offensive line that was thin from the outset and got thinner when left tackle Sebastian Vollmer left with a head injury.
No matter to Blount. When the holes were there, he bolted through them. When they weren’t, he created his own space, slamming his 6-foot, 250-ish-pound frame into defenders. Even when Blount was held to no gain, a Redskin paid the price.
When asked if he was tired from all the punishment he inflicted — and absorbed — Blount smiled.
“Nah, it was a long day, though,’’ he said.
Blount’s 29 carries were a career high, and he eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the 10th time in his five-plus seasons. He is the first Patriot to go over 100 yards since Jonas Gray’s 201-yard effort last season at Indianapolis.
“I thought LG ran well,’’ said coach Bill Belichick. “We had some good holes to run through. I thought he made some good yardage on his own.’’
Blount deflected the praise the way he deflected the defenders who were trying to take him on.
“I saw it as my offensive line blocking. Amazing,’’ said Blount.
Rob Gronkowski cited a team effort for New England’s 161-yard rushing day.
“You have to give credit to the offensive line [for opening some lanes],’’ said the big tight end. “The passing game we have to protect Tom [Brady] and the run game that we had — LB ran really nice, too. We were clicking in the run game.’’
An offense that normally flows through Brady, and Brady alone, struck balance Sunday, with Brady dropping back 39 times and handing off 37. The quarterback said Blount was the key.
“The more balanced we are, the better it is for the quarterback, so it was great,’’ said Brady. “[Blount] made some big runs, especially when there wasn’t a lot there. But [the way] he runs, it’s running through guys. He had a great run for I don’t know, 15, 17 yards or something like that there in the third quarter [actually 21] on a big touchdown drive.’’
It was a drive that culminated in the fourth quarter with Brandon Bolden’s 18-yard touchdown catch from Brady.
Speaking just inches from where his helmet was hanging, a helmet that bore small swaths of maroon and yellow paint from exchanging hits with the Redskins, Blount described his key play.
“Make sure I keep my legs moving and a lot of determination,’’ he said. “You want to make a play for your team. You want to make sure that you’re one of the guys they look to whenever they need a play.’’
More often that not on Sunday, it was Blount whom the Patriots looked to. Much to the chagrin of the visitors.
“We just have to get him down to the ground,’’ said Washington linebacker Preston Smith. “We have to tackle him as a unit. We have to go in there and get him down and keep him from getting a full head of steam and getting to the next level.’’
Blount said he’s ready for all situations, whether he gets the ball two or 29 times he’s on board with the plan.
“Whenever my number’s called I just have to go out there and perform and do what I have to do,’’ he said. “I prepare well every day, and I make sure I’m ready whenever they need me.’’
With the kind of results the running game had Sunday, Blount might be hearing his number called quite frequently.
“It was great to see it,’’ Brady said. “Hopefully we can do more of it.’’
That would be OK with Blount, who thrives not just on contact, but on carries.
You never know [what your workload will be], it depends on how the game goes,’’ he said. “If the game’s going to where we’re going to run the football, then we’ll run the football. If we need to pass, we’ll pass.
“But every running back likes a lot of carries. I don’t think any running back wants to get a couple of carries and get out.’’