LeGarrette Blount's 47-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter extended New England's lead over Atlanta to 20-10, and proved what the Patriots believed before the game -- "We knew we could run the ball on them," Logan Mankins said afterward -- to be true.
Three key blocks freed Blount, who then showed impressive burst and hauled his 250-pound frame into the end zone.
1) As has often been the case over the years, this play can be traced back to Mankins' brute strength. Off the snap, from his left guard spot, Mankins completely turned his man, defensive end Cliff Matthews, clearing him out of the play almost immediately. Then, for good measure, left tackle Nate Solder got a shot on Matthews on his way out to block linebacker Joplo Bartu. The rookie from Texas State wasn't thumped hard, but Solder sealed him off long enough for Blount to break into the second level untouched.
2) Dan Connolly pulled from his spot at right guard to double-team Osi Umenyiora with tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. The defensive end was quickly taken care of, but Connolly wasn't done. Intentionally or unintentionally, Connolly's legs got caught up with those of Atlanta linebacker Akeem Dent (who appeared to have over-pursued), taking yet another defender out of the play. From there, Blount was provided the space to get into the secondary with a head of steam.
3) It was a good, complete game from Julian Edelman on Sunday night, evidenced by his seven catches for 118 yards and this key block. Lined up just outside the left hash, he made a beeline for safety Thomas DeCloud at the snap. Edelman didn't try to muscle up the 192-pounder. Instead, he went for DeCloud's hands, slapping them down toward the turf and knocking DeCloud off balance. It wasn't a highlight-reel hit, but it was a savvy maneuver by a good all-around receiver. In this instance, it was enough to take a potential tackler out of the play.
From there, Blount's speed allowed him to out-gallup rookie corner Desmond Trufant and safety William Moore into the endzone, where he celebrated with Edelman and Hoomanawanui, among others. Blount's other, larger blockers on the play surely celebrated somewhere in his wake, out of the camera's view.