Third-round draft pick Stevan Ridley led all rushers with 97 yards on 10 carries. He outran Oakland’s star running back Darren McFadden, who was held to just 75 yards for the afternoon.
Ridley also broke a 33-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, giving New England a 24-10 lead at the time. It was his first career NFL score, and with the blocking he received from the offensive line, and Deion Branch, it was pretty simple.
“Green grass, man, and a lot of it,” Ridley said when asked what he saw on the TD run.
The 33-yarder was not the only big run of Ridley’s afternoon. He also broke a 25-yard run in the first half, and averaged just under 10 yards per carry for the afternoon.
With Oakland’s tough defensive front, the New England offensive line was able get some big holes for the Patriots runners.
“They were huge, man,” said Ridley. “The offensive line did an awesome job. Like I said, those were the biggest holes I’ve ever seen in my life. I just had to keep running and when they’re there I have to hit them at full speed.”
“Those guys were finding the holes, getting to the edge, making our blocks a lot easier,” tackle Matt Light said after the win. “The more we can get those guys the ball, the better off we’ll be.”
The Patriots out-rushed Oakland 183-yards to 160, averaging over six yards per carry. If the Patriots can establish a run game, it makes life a lot easier on quarterback Tom Brady, and a lot tougher on opposing defenses.
“It was huge; being more balanced than we have been,” said Brady. “That’s important; it sets up a lot of things. If (they) can’t stop the run, then you’re just going to keep running it and control the entire tempo of the game.”
The run game allowed New England to eat some clock in the second half, preserving their lead. It was something they were unable to do in their loss to the Buffalo Bills.
As for Ridley, when he gets the call, he is going to make sure he makes the most out of every opportunity.
“I’m just down here running. That offensive line is still working for me up front and I’m still learning as I go,” he said. “I still have a lot of work to do; I just have to take my role and just take it one game at a time. Just keep on getting those carries and doing what I have to do when the ball is in my hand.”