The Patriots didn't do much of anything in the opening quarter on Sunday against the Dolphins, and it wasn't until Stevan Ridley entered the game five minutes into the second quarter that the Patriots began moving the football.
He carried the football on five of their 13 plays during their first scoring drive, which ended in a 34-yard field goal to cut the Dolphins' lead to 14-3. He picked up 23 yards on that possession along with two first downs.
The big story seemed to be the fact that Ridley didn't start the game and joined rookie defensive back Logan Ryan on the sideline during the opening quarter. Some speculated that it was due to their touchdown celebrations last week against the Jets, but it was hard not to notice the difference he made when he finally stepped into New England's offense.
Overall he finished the day with 14 carries for 79 yards, his third highest total this season and the most he's had since their week six match-up against the Saints where he carried the ball 20 times for 96 yards. On Sunday he also scored a key 3-yard fourth quarter touchdown that finished off New England's 24-0 second half scoring run that basically put the game out of reach and helped drop the Dolphins below .500 at 3-4, while the Patriots improved to 6-2 on the year.
"Our offensive line was giving some push," Ridley told reporters after the game. "The holes were a little bit tight at first and I think as the game progressed, the offensive line, we really started leaning on them and some creases were in there."
In the second half he started slicing through the holes of Miami's defense, carrying 9 times for 56 yards, averaging 6.2 yards per carry while helping provide a little balance to New England's offense. However, where the Patritos really grabbed the momentum was following a missed 46 yard field goal by Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis during the third quarter. On New England's first play from scrimmage on their ensuing drive, Ridley ripped off a 23 yard run up the middle, which was his longest rush of the season. That put them in Dolphins territory at Miami's 41 yard line and two plays later, Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a 23 yard pass down the middle of the field to put them down inside Miami's 18. He then followed that up with a 14-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Aaron Dobson, which at the time cut Miami's lead to 17-10 and woke up the fans at Gillette Stadium that had previously booed them off the field at the half.
When asked if that run helped get things started, Ridley didn't deny it.
"I would be lying if I said I didn't," said Ridley. "It's a spark that came from it and I think that was just the boulder that our offensive line had to push and roll over. And once we got that big run going, it helped our offense to come in there and set up the pass. "
Overall it worked out well, with the Patriots piling up 111 yards on the ground in the second half on Sunday, with Ridley accounting for 56 of them. It would have been better if they had been able to play a complete game offensively, but in the end, Ridley says they'll take the win.
"You definitely got to play four quarters in this league," said Ridley. "You know there are always tough games. We're always playing against great competition, so mental toughness goes a long way, especially a division game that counts a lot in the divisional standings and stuff like that, so we had a big week of preparation here.
"I think we did a great job of coming in and understanding the concepts of how we wanted to play these guys and the first half [we] didn't play like we should have and the second half we played how we wanted to play for the whole game, so we'll take it."