Monday, October 8, 2012

Run game paces Brady's latest victory over Manning


Ever since Tom Brady's first NFL start, he and Peyton Manning have been slugging it out in high-scoring, high-stakes battles that have provided some of the greatest moments of the past decade.

Sunday, they would log the latest edition of this legendary matchup. Neither would disappoint with their performances, but Brady came with an added weapon that helped the Patriots emerge with a 31-21 victory over Manning's Denver Broncos.

In a game in which the passing would normally garner the headlines, the Patriots' rushing attack once again paced New England's offense, controlling the clock, moving the ball and keeping the opposing offense off of the field.

It's an element to the game that sometimes goes unnoticed in a Brady-led offense, but his teammates understand the importance of establishing the run.

"It takes a lot of pressure off Brady," running back Stevan Ridley said, according to the team's website. "A lot of people key on him and our running back group has to get some pressure off him so he can be the quarterback he can be. We can't be a one-dimensional offense."

For the second consecutive game, Ridley topped 100 yards rushing and scored at least one touchdown. New England's offense totaled over 200 yards rushing in consecutive games for the first time since 1978.

A departure from what has been expected from the New England offense in recent years, the Patriots are looking to control the game on the ground, with their 191 rushing attempts now leading the league.

"We always try to be balanced," center Dan Connolly said. "As offensive lineman, we like to run the ball and you have to run the ball to set up the passing game and that whole thing. It's working for us."

Manning lit up the stat sheet with 345 passing yards, three touchdown passes,and a 116.2 passer rating, all numbers superior to Brady's totals. But with the balance of a dominant running game to complement the passing attack, Brady was able to walk away with a comfortable victory in the latest chapter of this always-memorable matchup.

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