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BOSTON (CBS) – When it comes to the New England Patriots’ offense, the focus is always on the passing attack led by Tom Brady.
On Sunday, he got a lot of help from his running back; something New England fans haven’t been able to say too often since Corey Dillon left in 2006.
Second-year back Stevan Ridley carried the ball 21 times for 125 yards – both career highs — and found the end zone late in the third quarter to put New England on top 28-10 in their eventual 34-13 season-opening victory over the Titans.
For Ridley, who was used sparingly throughout his rookie season, it was a surprise to get that many touches.
“21 carries, that’s a higher number than I expected,” he said following the win. “I’m just very thankful.”
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“Coach had a game plan and told us what it was going to be and how we could run the ball effectively,” said Ridley, who also added a pair of catches for 27 yards. “He keeps it pretty simple for us over the week; he just tells us to go out and do our job. I went out there and did my job. There was green grass to run to and I just tried to hit it hard and get downhill.”
Stevan Ridley Postgame:
Of his 21 carries, Ridley had six carries for 10-yards or more (14, 17, 15, 15, 14, 16). With each big run, it helped set up the play-action and made life a lot easier on the quarterback.
“He ran the ball extremely well; we have to continue to do that,” Brady said of Ridley. “It was a very balanced (game) in terms of running and passing. That’s what makes it tough to defend.”
“Coach McDaniels does a good job of mixing that in,” Ridley said of the balanced attack. “We don’t want to go out there and be predictable. All of our backs can run and we can all catch. We’re going to do a good job changing it up and just trying to be a well-rounded running back (group).”
“It’s something to build on,” added Brady. “When you can control the tempo of the game running the ball, it really helps out the rest of the team; it helps special teams, it helps the defense. You just can’t drop back and throw it 50 times again. If we’re around 30 times a game, that’s right where we want to be.”
After the game, Ridley praised his offensive line for opening up some big running room.
“The offensive line was just blocking and getting on people. It was bodies on bodies and I just had to hit my creases and run,” he said. “I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. I was just the player that I was and went out there and played ball.”
Ridley ran for 97 yards in Week 3 of the 2011 season against the Oakland Raiders, which at the time was viewed as his breakout game. But following that game, he didn’t see much action until the final three weeks of the season.
Stats: Pats-Titans Box Score
He’s already matched his 2011 touchdown total, and is on his way to eclipsing his 441 rush yards of last year early in the season. But the former third-round pick is still plenty hungry, and ready to prove himself in his new job as the starting back of the Patriots.
“We can’t be satisfied. I’m not satisfied,” said Ridley. “I’m going to enjoy this win today and the game that I had but we have to get back to work on Monday.”