The play of BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been one factor in the Patriots' return to balance on offense.
In ten games this season, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has thrown less than 30 passes four times. All four of those games: wins. Tom Brady's completion percentage in those games: 72.8%. In fact, since 2003, Tom Brady has only lost two games when throwing less than 30 passes.
This is not an indictment of Tom Brady in any way. In fact, the two games Brady has thrown over 40 passes this season (Baltimore, Pittsburgh), the Patriots have won. However, there's no denying the fact that when Tom Brady has a consistent and reliable running game, it makes him that much better.
It's no coincidence that the two best post-RM (Randy Moss) offensive performances for the Patriots this season, have come on the back of two excellent games from running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. In week ten, Green-Ellis was the first back to successfully and consistently run the ball down the throat of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Benny's success allowed the Patriots to turn to the play action, resulting in Tom Brady's best game of the season.
Things weren't much different against the Colts yesterday. The Patriots, for the most part, worked out of two tightt end sets. Green-Ellis got going quickly, and Tom Brady became tough to beat on the play-action. In fact, the total run-pass ratio was slightly in favor of the run. Whenever this happens, a team is tough to beat. When you play Tom Brady, you become that much tougher to beat. In fact, the presence of the running game from Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis allowed the Patriots to score on all three of their first half drives. We also can't overlook the play of the offensive line, which has really been boosted by the return of Logan Mankins.
The return to balance that we've seen over the last couple of weeks has been the underlying statistic in a much more physical Patriots offense in recent weeks. And you know what? I love it. The Patriots have a nasty, mauling offensive line. The have a physical running back who will take advantage of every yard the defense gives him in BenJarvus Green-Ellis. They have another back, Danny Woodhead, who is fast, quick, and slithery, but is willing to give up his body on every play. They have two rookie tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, who serve as bigger, physical red zone targets for the Patriots. They have a veteran tight end in Alge Crumpler, who has changed the dynamic of the offense with his ability as a blocker. And, oh yeah, they've got one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game in Tom Brady.
Of course, I would have liked to have seen the Patriots do something with their two drives in fourth quarter. However, they've played well in the fourth all year so that doesn't worry me. Overall, the offense was close to unstoppable last night. No, it's not as flashy as 2007, or maybe even parts of 2009. But this offense is good. And not only is it good, it's an offense with the necessary traits to succeed not only in November and December, but when the playoff roll around this January.