New England Patriots

By Matt Dolloff,

Every time Sony Michel had the football, it seemed like he was exploding for a big gain or powering by defenders. You’re not crazy if that’s how it looked to you too.

The rookie gashed the New York Jets for 133 yards on 21 carries to help spur the Patriots offense in a 27-13 win, getting rewarded with his fifth touchdown in just his eighth game. And the Pats dominated on the ground as a whole, ending up with 215 yards on 36 total carries. James White pitched in with a career-high 73 rushing yards of his own.

But it was Michel who got the bulk of the handoffs and the rookie consistently made the Jets pay. He followed his blockers as well as he has all season, and make no mistake, the offensive line was also outstanding up front to create plenty of openings. Michel took full advantage, often cutting around blockers at the first and second levels to burst into the open field. It resulted in two runs of at least 31 yards and minimal short gains. He also had two runs for 41 yards that got called back due to penalties.

Obviously, the run was planned to be a big part of the offense in this game. Bill Belichick likely saw Sunday’s first-half rock fight coming, and you always want to be able to run the ball in situations like that. Michel and the offense looked like they heard Belichick’s message loud and clear.

“Coach kind of gave us a challenge this week of being able to run the football,” said Michel “I think the offensive line did a great job. Everybody just collectively as a group did a good job to achieve that goal.”

The Patriots ended up just fine through the air, too, as Tom Brady went 20-of-31 for 283 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. The only real blemishes for the offense were their seven penalties, mostly in the first half. But more importantly, they were able to protect the football as well with no fumbles or interceptions.

Complementary football has been needed for the Patriots on the road all season, and it still took about two-and-a-half quarters for that to really materialize. But they have also needed better complementary football just on offense, and they certainly got that today with their nice balance of runs and passes. Michel was a huge part of that.

If the rookie can keep avoiding injuries and continue to build momentum game-to-game, he can keep emerging as a real threat on the ground and a fine complement for Brady and the passing game. The best sign for the Pats on the ground is that Belichick issued a direct challenge to them, and they answered.

Matt Dolloff is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at