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December 14, 2009

Pats ride mighty mites to win

FOXBORO - Three hundred and eighty seven pounds of playmakers.

In the NFL, that doesn't sound like much. The New England Patriots, victorious here 20-10 over Carolina, appear driven to prove that the diminutive tandem of Wes Welker and Kevin Faulk will fuel a furious drive to the AFC playoffs.

Both the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Welker and the 5-foot-8, 202-pound Faulk took offense into their own hands yesterday, providing the plays and the stability this team needed to avert a three-game losing streak.

"Being a leader and really kind of stepping up," explained Welker, the clear MVP again yesterday with 10 catches for 105 yards. "You can't be a guy that's going to be 'rah rah' and then go in the tank and not play up to par."

On a team where the leaders continue to be thinned, either by adversity or injury or lateness, Faulk and Welker represent a lot more on the field than first downs.

Yesterday, with Laurence Maroney tap-dancing early and Sammy Morris putting the ball on the turf, Bill Belichick injected Faulk into the flow.

Averaging about seven touches a game, Faulk saw his workload nearly double, rushing 10 times for 58 yards with a TD and catching three passes for 17 more.

Each was vocal. Each played much bigger than their size would dictate. And this football team, searching for answers after back-to-back losses, paid attention.

"Wes is Wes. He's going to do what he has to do, get open, whatever it takes for this team to win," said Faulk, marveling at Welker staggering off the turf after a monster shot by Charles Godfrey. "That almost reminded me of one of those Hulk Hogan moves, when he gets beat down and the crowd starts cheering and he gets up and the place goes crazy. ... It got us moving."

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