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THE NFL / 1996

Martin Runs to Glory in Patriot Victory

November 25, 1996|From Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots apparently have a running game after all.

The Patriots came into Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts with a running attack ranked third worst in the NFL, but Curtis Martin ran for 141 yards in 35 carries and the Patriots defeated the Colts, 27-13.

"I feel real good. I feel like I could start the game over," Martin said after his busiest game of the season. "I'm in the flow of the game when I get the ball 25-30 times."

A week earlier, Martin ran only seven times in a 34-8 loss to Denver in which the Patriots went to the air after falling behind early.

"We know that we're better than that," said Martin "We wanted to make up our mind to go out there and not let it happen again."

It didn't happen again, as the Patriots led, 17-0, before the Colts had a first down.

Martin's team-record 16th touchdown of the season--on a 12-yard run in the fourth quarter--gave the Patriots a 27-6 lead.

On defense, the Colts were missing right tackle Tony Siragusa, linebacker Jeff Herrod and strong safety David Tate. On offense, they lost quarterback Jim Harbaugh early in the third quarter for two to three weeks with a strained medial collateral ligament of his left knee.

The Patriots were ranked second in the NFL in passing, but were determined to run as Martin carried on the first six plays. His 18 rushes on the Patriots' first 22 plays were more than the entire team had in each of its last two games.

Drew Bledsoe had a strong game, completing 21 of 30 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns, but his performance was almost incidental. "My job was not as important as it had been in past games," Bledsoe said. "I'm perfectly happy with that."

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