Michel lights up red zone

Rookie rolls in play­off de­but

Boston Herald - - NFL PLAYOFFS - BY RICH THOMP­SON Twit­ter: @richiet400

FOXBORO — Rookie tail­back Sony Michel was a red zone sen­sa­tion in the first half of yes­ter­day’s 41-28 blitz of the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers in the AFC Di­vi­sional Round game at Gil­lette Sta­dium.

Michel set a per­sonal stan­dard in his NFL play­off de­but that will be dif­fi­cult to du­pli­cate when the Pa­tri­ots en­gage the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC ti­tle game next Sun­day at Ar­row­head Sta­dium.

The 5-11, 205-pound, first round pick out of Ge­or­gia equaled a play­off team record with three rush­ing touch­downs, all of which were scored in the first half and orig­i­nated from the red zone.

Michel shares the record with Cur­tis Martin and LeGar­rette Blount, who turned the trick twice. Blount scored three in the first half against the Colts on Jan. 11, 2014.

The Pa­tri­ots’ five touch­downs and both Stephen Gostkowski field goals were scored with the line of scrim­mage in­side the Charg­ers 20. Tail­back Rex Burk­head scored on a 6-yard scam­per around left tackle and wide re­ceiver Phillip Dorsett caught a 15-yard pass from Tom Brady.

“That’s (red zone) is an as­pect of the game we fo­cus on,” said Michel. “The red zone is very im­por­tant to us and what we do when we get down there.

“I think we did a de­cent job with guys ex­e­cut­ing with pride and do­ing their jobs.”

Michel pro­vided the ground threat that al­lowed Brady to com­plete 34-of-44 passes for 343 yards and a touch­down while com­pil­ing a passer rat­ing of 106.5. Michel car­ried the ball 24 times for 129 yards with a long of 40 and touch­down runs of one, 14 and five yards.

The Pa­tri­ots’ game plan was to ex­e­cute long drives that had Charg­ers quar­ter­back Phillip Rivers pac­ing the side­lines. They scored touch­downs on five of their first six pos­ses­sions on time­con­sum­ing trips through the Charg­ers’ for­mi­da­ble front seven. The Pa­tri­ots open­ing drive went 83 yards on 14 plays that con­sumed 7:11 and ended on dive by Michel.

“It’s all about con­cen­tra­tion and the coach is go­ing to call the best plays pos­si­ble for us to suc­ceed,” said Michel. “Guys are go­ing to take pride in ex­e­cut­ing plays and ev­ery­body do­ing their job al­lows us to do our jobs and the guys did a great job do­ing it.

“The 40-yard run was all caused by all the great block­ing I had with the of­fen­sive linemen and re­ceivers do­ing their jobs. There were wide open holes that any­one could run through.”

Michel laid the foun­da­tion for his stel­lar play­off de­but dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son. Michel rushed for 931 yards, the most by a rookie ball car­rier on head coach Bill Belichick’s watch, on 209 car­ries for a 5.5 av­er­age with a long of 34 and six touch­downs. Michel had four games with over 100 yards and with a ca­reer best of 133 against the Jets on Nov. 25.

“We’ve talked about him all year (and) he’s done a good job,” said Belichick.


GO­ING FOR IT: Sony Michel dives into the end zone in the first quar­ter of the Pats’ rout yes­ter­day in Foxboro.

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