One of the biggest ongoing stories for the Patriots is the health and play of the offensive line. The team has lost Nate Solder and Ryan Wendell for the season due to injury, Sebastian Vollmer left Sunday's game with a head injury and Marcus Cannon has also missed some time with a toe injury.
So how are the Patriots still playing well with a mess of an offensive line? Rookie center David Andrews has played very well, so has Josh Kline, who received a two-year contract extension earlier today. Bryan Stork played for the first time this season on Sunday, which adds some depth. Rookies Shaq Mason and Tre' Jackson have played well at times too.
New England has also been using its tight ends as blockers more and more each week. Michael Williams has been a huge contributor as a blocking tight end, essentially filling the void vacated by Michael Hoomanawanui. Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler also spent a fair amount of time protecting Tom Brady on Sunday.
Despite the fact this offensive juggernaut put up a season-low 27 points on Sunday (think about that for a second. That's their season low. How amazing is that?), the offense recorded 460 total yards and the line opened up big holes for LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis before he got hurt.
From Ben Volin of The Boston Globe:
And they got them on Sunday. The Patriots didn’t pour the points on thick like they have for most of the season, but they rushed for 82 of their 161 yards in the second half and were able to close out the win with the ground game, when everyone in the stadium knew they were going to run the ball. LeGarrette Blount pounded the football for 129 yards on 4.4 yards per carry, with 71 of those yards coming after halftime.
“We went into the game with six offensive linemen. You just hope for the best,” Brady said. “And then obviously with Seabass [Vollmer] going down, it puts a lot of strain on those guys. And a lot of guys scrambled to figure out exactly what we’re going to do. And they played really hard, so I’m proud of them.”
Brady drew a big smile when asked about Stork kicking out to right tackle and Fleming switching to left tackle for the first time in a game.
“I mean, for Bryan to play right tackle, he hadn’t played center this year and he goes in and plays right tackle. It’s like unbelievable,” Brady said. “And then Flem to go to left tackle, which . . . I don’t know when we thought about doing that, but that’s what happens when you’re a little bit under pressure.”
The offensive line might get a bit of a break this Sunday, as the Patriots go up against a New York Giants defense that ranks 32nd in the NFL against the pass. That's a far cry from the Giants defenses that gave Brady fits in Super Bowl's XLII and XLVI.
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