There has been so much talk over the past week and half about the Giants front seven getting in Tom Brady’s face, you would almost forget that the Patriots even have any running backs. While pressure on Brady will play a large role in how Super Bowl XLVI unfolds, the X-factor that could not only help keep the heat off of Tom Brady, but could help run the Patriots to victory, is the Patriots’ running game, most notably “The Law Firm” BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis has sort of taken a back seat throughout much of the season while the passing game featuring two devastating tight ends lit up scoreboards. However, when the Patriots have needed to lean on a steady hand that will not cough the ball up, they have gone to The Law Firm.
A key drive in the AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens could provide a glimpse into how the Patriots will combat the Giants’ pass rush.
At the end of the first quarter, the score was 3-0 favoring the Patriots, but Tom Brady was getting some pressure from Ravens’ defense. He was intercepted on the Pats’ last drive of the quarter, and two plays into the second quarter, the Ravens tied the game 3-3. The Pats then went to BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis opened the drive with a run of 13 yards and a run of 11 yards. The six running plays on that drive came out of the no-huddle offense, and several of the runs had Brady in the shotgun. The pass rush was sucked up and the running backs, Green-Ellis on five of the six runs, were able to get ahead and gain good yardage.
The drive ended with Brady in the shotgun, handing off to Green-Ellis who ran 7 yards off the right guard for the game’s first touchdown. After that drive, the Ravens had to account for the Patriots running game and The Law Firm’s hard-nosed, punishing running style. The heat on Brady lessened, which was key on a day where he wasn’t his usual sharp self.
How will the Patriots keep the heat off of Tom Brady? There are several ways, but the most effective may be establishing a strong running game with the reliable Green-Ellis leading the way. When asked what to expect from the Patriots’ running game in the Super Bowl, Green-Ellis said, “We expect to try to come out there and be successful and try to win plays and execute on all cylinders.” Being successful on the ground could mean the difference between a win or a loss.