Bill Belichick had Brady averaging close to 50 passing attempts in those games. It’s a miracle that he hasn't had nagging elbow injuries. It was fantastic that we had a reliable QB who could rack up the points. However, it hurt the offensive and defensive lines' abilities to perform in the clutch.
The offense got off the field too fast, which gave a young defense no time to recover, adjust nor learn from their mistakes. The problem was the lack of an explosive running game.
Enter Stevan Ridley.
This offseason Belichick addressed those issues with a renewed focus on running the ball. Gone is the "law firm," Ben Jarvis-Green. He was a steady contributor, but was as exciting as his nickname. New England has pinned their hopes on two second year backs, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.
Vereen was both the more touted and more injury prone before he wore a pro jersey. Ridley saw significant playing time last season, but a case of the drops saw him glued to the bench in the Superbowl. The team could have used his skills to make the Giant defense account for the run.
It’s been a long time since the Patriot backfield had an electrifying runner like Stevan Ridley.
He reminds fans of 'redemption man,' Corey Dillon, who was part of New England's 2005 championship. I see more of a Curtis Martin-type back, player that brought a down-field game with electrifying bursts of power and quickness.
If Sunday's 25-carry, 125-yard performance is a preview of things to come the rest of the NFL will be in trouble.
Brady will have a field-day, and opposing defenses won't know who or what to prepare for on game day. The real test will be on 9/23 when Ridley faces Ray Lewis and Ed Reed's Baltimore Raven defense. If he can manage to eek out even a 60-yard, 15-carry performance against them, then all questions about Brady's trust in him should be answered.
In the meantime, the red-robed Arizona Cardinals on 9/16 should provide Ridley with a tune-up and help him solidify his claim to the Patriot backfield.