Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
Key to Victory: Ridley…Believe It or Not
There’s no surprise that the New England Patriots are back in the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season and the 11th time since 2001.
It may surprise some people to know that for the second straight year, the Pats finished in the top 10 in the NFL in rushing. And that has to concern the Indianapolis Colts, who finished 26th in rushing defense this season.
“They run the ball for almost 130 yards per game and 255 on average through the air," said Colts’ head Coach Pagano to Stephen Holder via USA Today Sports. “We know how potent that offense is…”
It is indeed. New England finished seventh overall in the league in total offense, ninth in rushing and 10th in passing. And despite all their issues this past season, only the Denver Broncos (606) and Chicago Bears (445) scored more points than the Patriots (444) in 2013.
Pagano added, “You can't go in and say you've just got to get after Tom (Brady) and get him off the spot and put pressure on him and try to frustrate him from a schematic standpoint. They are balanced.”
In last week’s rousing 45-44 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Colts allowed 150 yards on the ground despite not facing Jamaal Charles for most of the afternoon.
This week, they figure to see plenty of Patriots running back Stevan Ridley, who ran for 773 yards and seven scores, edging out teammate LeGarrette Blount (who also rushed for seven touchdowns) by one yard (772). Ridley’s ball-security issues have been well-documented as he lost all four fumbles he managed this season. But he, along with Blount, may be too much for the Indianapolis defense to handle.
And it’s hard to come back from any deficit, be it Andrew Luck or any quarterback, when you don’t have the football.