Mankins, O-Line step it up against Ravens
|Rob Carr/ Getty Images|
Left guard Logan Mankins was moved to left tackle, a position he hadn't played with any regularity since his senior season at Fresno State in 2004, where he'd be tasked with protecting Tom Brady's blindside from perennial Pro-Bowler Terrell Suggs. Undrafted rookie Josh Kline would make his first career start in Mankins old spot at guard, where he was sure to see some battles with Haloti Ngata.
What looked like a recipe for disaster on paper turned out to work like a charm on the field. The Ravens normally ferocious front was neutralized by the Pats patchwork line, managing only 2 sacks and 4 hits all game on Tom Brady.
Protecting Brady that well made it a good day for the line. When you add being able to run the ball 34 times for 142 yards (4.2 ypc) and 2 touchdowns, it easily became the O-line's best and most timely performance of the year.
The entire line performed well, but Mankins particularly stood out. Despite playing out of position, he rendered Suggs nearly invisible, as Suggs only noteworthy play was a sack that came with his team already down 20 late in the third quarter.
"Logan's a good football player and a good competitor" said Patriots coach Bill Belichick after the game. He's a tough guy mentally and physically. I have never seen him do anything but meet a challenge head on. It looked like he did a good job tonight against some pretty good football players."
The Patriots also had lots of success running the ball behind Mankins, particularly on the game sealing drive capped off by LeGarrette Blount's second touchdown run of the day. On the day, they ran off left tackle 10 times for 54 yards, with 31 of those coming on Blount's four carries. They also ran to the left side on 7 of the 8 plays on the aforementioned Blount drive.
Speaking of Suggs, I'm sure I wasn't the only Pats fan that loved seeing Brady's long time nemesis gasping for air on the sidelines while the Pats were closing out the game by running the ball down Baltimore's throat.
"I don't know, gotta look at the tape" said Suggs when asked what went wrong for his Ravens today. "Actually, just burn the tape."
Sorry T-Sizzle, but we'll be relishing this one for a long time.