FOXBORO -- Give New England's offensive line some credit.
Though the starting unit has largely remained intact, it did not get through the season unscathed. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer went on injured reserve after Week 8. Marcus Cannon missed two games with an ankle injury. A concussion sidelined Solder for Week 16's tilt against Baltimore.
Still, the line has largely held. Football Outsiders ranks the Patriots No. 1 in the league for run blocking, No. 4 for run stuffs surrendered (backs tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage) and No. 9 in pass protection (40 sacks allowed).
What does it mean? Consistency is worth playing through some pain.
"We all depend on each other. It’s the greatest team sport; we’re all so interconnected," Solder explained. "So many times when maybe you don’t feel like you can go but you do it because of the other guys. I think that’s part of the reason that we all work so hard at it."
Logan Mankins is a prime example.
The veteran guard guaranteed his place in Patriots folklore after he played the entire 2011 season on a torn ACL. Not that anyone knew; Mankins kept news of his injury under wraps until September of 2012.
He's not one for melodrama.
So this season's Week 17 situation appeared to be dire when he was helped off the field. Mankins went down hard in the second quarter and was removed to the locker room for further evaluation. Not three minutes after the team announced an ankle injury, he was back on the field.
"I’ve seen unbelievable toughness from him and so many other guys on my team," Solder smiled. "It’s amazing to play with a group of guys like that, absolutely."
They hold together no matter who's in, who's hurt, or who they're playing. It starts with mental toughness, and that comes from the top.
"I think it all just trickles down," Solder said. "[Bill Belichick] doesn’t make excuses. [Dante] Scarnecchia doesn’t make excuses. Whoever is in there is going to have to play and play well. That’s kind of the way we keep going with whatever happens."