EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

September 28, 2009

Taylor-made win

Veteran running back provides spark Patriots were lacking

FOXBORO — Welcome to the game plan, Fred Taylor.

It took a little while — two weeks and one quarter — but you may have changed the direction of the 2009 New England Patriots' football season.

Taylor helped New England earn a 26-10 victory over the previously unbeaten Atlanta Falcons.

While Taylor's final numbers were impressive for a running back-by-committee member (21 rushes, 105 yards, 1 TD), it was four plays, all in a row, and 41 yards early in the second quarter, that may have changed the Patriots' season.

With the ball on the Falcons' 41 and the score tied 3-3, Taylor got his first touch, which turned into an eight-yard run. On second down, he got another touch and broke two tackles for 19 yards. On the third play, Taylor got six yards — three of which came after first contact.

The final play of the sequence saw Taylor go up the middle untouched for an eight-yard score.

While that might not be the stuff of legends, around here, where it is pass, pass and then pass again, we take notice.

The Falcons scored on their next possession to tie the score but the damage was done.

The Patriots could run the football, which means for 50 plays a game the offensive linemen won't have worry about saving Tom Brady's life.

"It was nice to see the game plan this week," said Patriots center Dan Koppen. "We knew we were going to establish the run. Of course, that's music to every offensive linemen's ears."

Taylor's performance shouldn't be shocking to any of us. The Patriots signed the 33-year-old Taylor over the winter to a two-year, $8 million contract, which included a $1.45 million signing bonus.

We figured Taylor might have days like this. He entered the season ranked 16th overall in NFL history for rushing yards by a running back.

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