The New England Patriots had three different lead running backs in their three postseason games. Dion Lewis led the positional group in the Divisional Round against the Houston Texans, LeGarrette Blount had the most snaps in the Conference Championship against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and James White unleashed and incredible exclamation point upon the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl.
But when you think closely, how much did these players produce on the ground? Lewis gained 41 rushing yards against the Texans and White did most of the his damage through the air against the Falcons.
It turns out that the Patriots had one of the least productive rushing attacks in Super Bowl history, as recognized by Chase Stuart of Football Perspective.
Stuart examined all Super Bowl winners and the Patriots average of 86.3 rushing yards per game is the 3rd fewest of any Super Bowl champion ever- and the teams around the 2016 Patriots are very familiar.
The 2014 Patriots had the 2nd fewest rushing yards per game of any Super Bowl champion at 82.7 YPG, while the 2001 Patriots posted the 4th fewest at 89.3 YPG. Yes, the Patriots have three of the four lowest rushing outputs of any Super Bowl champion in NFL history.
The team with the record-low is the 1999 Greatest Show on Turf St. Louis Rams with a laughably impressive 37.0 YPG. Somehow RB Marshall Faulk, fresh off a then-record 2,429 yards from scrimmage regular season, gained just 82 rushing yards on 38 carries (2.16 YPC); fortunately for the Rams their passing attack was unstoppable.
The 2016 Patriots averaged just 3.28 YPC in the postseason, the lowest for any Patriots Super Bowl champion, barely edging out the 2014 and 2001 teams (both 3.35 YPC) and the 2003 squad (3.56 YPC). The 2004 team ranked 9th in NFL history with 4.53 YPC and a solid 149.3 yards per game behind RB Corey Dillon.
The Patriots have found a way to overcome weak rushing attacks by utilizing the receiving back as an extension of the rushing game. Players like Kevin Faulk, Shane Vereen, and James White have supplemented their rushing yards with easy dump offs in the open field for quick yards after the catch.