LeGarrette Blount: ‘We had to man up and play tough football’
|12.29.13 at 9:39 pm ET|
FOXBORO — There were only two certainties Sunday: The driving rain and the driving legs of LeGarrette Blount.
Blount established a new Patriots franchise record with 334 all-purpose yards, rushing for 189 yards and two touchdowns while returning two key kicks 145 yards to lead the Patriots to a 34-20 win over the Bills at waterlogged Gillette Stadium.
“Obviously, it was a tremendous game by LeGarrette,” Bill Belichick beamed. “Clearly, the best player on the field. He had a tremendous day. He carried the team on his back for most of the day.”
Blount, being the humble man he is, declined to accept that assessment from his coach. Instead, he chose to thank the offensive line and the special teams units that he insisted opened huge holes for him all day.
‘I wouldn’t say that,” Blount said. “On the returns that I had, I didn’t get touched for like the first thirty yards, so I tip my hat off to those guys, the core special teams guys. We have a Pro Bowler in [Matthew] Slater, so I tip my hat off to those guys. And the offensive line played amazing for both of us, me and [Stevan] Ridley and Shane [Vereen]. The offensive line played amazing, so you can’t ever give them enough credit.’
Belichick said the weather definitely turned the contest into a “running game.” Blount excelled given the chance.
‘I mean, I like touching the ball no matter what the weather is,” Blount said. “I’m not going to argue with them if they want to give it to us.
‘I feel like we had to man up and play tough football with the conditions, and whoever played better football physically is going to be the winner. It was cold and it was rainy, and it was hard for a lot of guys to keep their footing. We just went into the game with the mindset to run the football and play physical football, and that’s what we did. It’s a mindset and the will of what’s at stake and the urgency that we have to have to continue to be successful, and how important this first round bye was.’
Blount was without question the most important player on the field. In addition to his two touchdown runs, everyone saw why Belichick saw such promise in Blount as a return man way back in training camp. He returned one kick for 83 yards after the Bills cut the lead to 16-10. That led to a Patriots touchdown that made it 24-10.
The Bills came right back and made it 24-17. No worries, Blount was there again to save the day, returning the ensuing kick 62 yards and setting the Patriots up at the Bills 40. The field goal made it 27-17 and the Patriots dodged two speeding bullets.
‘It was a good feeling, man,” Blount said. “Those core guys ‘ I mean, we’ve been close a few times, but a few times it’s been us, it’s been the returners that haven’t ran the return to the point to where we could’ve broken it, and we finally got to the point where we read it perfectly, and they brought the perfect play and it broke.”
Blount set a new career high with 189 yards through the puddles. His final touchdown was emblematic of his day. He was tripped up at the Bills 10 but kept his feet long enough to stumble forward and dive across the goal line for the TD that put the Patriots up, 34-20. Again, Blount didn’t want to take credit. He wanted to give praise to the line that allowed him to get to the outside and make the final run.
‘It was our offensive line,” Blount said. “All we have to do is find the holes. They blocked tremendously. They had an amazing game. It was one of our best games by our offensive line, and they played amazing throughout the whole season, and they definitely came through for us big-time today. You can’t say enough about those guys, they’re tough.’
Ironic that Blount wanted to give his head coach a bear hug at the end of the game, the only one to get a firm grip around Blount all day.
‘It was just the excitement of us winning this game and getting that first-round bye into the playoffs,” Blount said. “We can go into this week and we can get a lot of rest, and we have two weeks to study a lot of film on whoever we’re going to play.’