By Tom E. Curran
FOXBORO - Last week against the Buffalo Bills, Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden ran wild.
The two backs combined for 243 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns on 38 combined carries.
They hit holes, they made people miss and they ran through contact.
But a hard look at each back's runs shows some more interesting information. Bolden made 78 yards after contact (which I defined as any blow that slows the runner or causes a noticeable break in stride); Ridley had 60 yards.
Bolden had seven carries on which he was brought down by the first defender (or wave of defenders) with no gain after contact. Ridley had six of those.
Ridley made seven defenders miss; Bolden made eight miss (remember, Ridley had six more carries.
Most interestingly, on Bolden's first five runs, he didn't make any defenders miss and only made 1 yard after contact. But after that, he exploded, gaining 17, 5 and 7 yards after contact on his next three runs.
In the second half, Bolden had a four-run stretch in which he gained 11, 9, 12, 5, 5, and 4 yards after contact.
How important are yards after contact to the Patriots? Pretty vital.
"Thething that really matters the most with the backs is how many yards they gainon their own," said Belichick. "Any back can really run until the first guy gets to him, thatsnot really that special, but its what guys do after they could or should bebrought down, whether they can continue to add yards to the play after that.Thats the mark really of a good runner, which includes the receivers too."
Last week, both men did a standout job on their own.