The Patriots' ground game was an afterthought during the regular season because they have Tom Brady and don't portend to be a balanced offense. Regardless, New England's ground game will play a quietly critical role despite entering with 42 carries through two playoff games. Pounding the ball with BenJarvus Green-Ellis early will be important toward taking some of the aggressiveness out of the Giants' pass rush. The Patriots did average 110.2 rushing yards per game during the regular season, and threw a wrinkle in with tight end Aaron Hernandez lining up in the backfield for several snaps against Denver in the playoff opener. Mighty mite Danny Woodhead and rookie Stevan Ridley could also figure into the mix.
The Giants finished last in the league with 89.2 rushing yards per game during the regular season. But running back Ahmad Bradshaw's troublesome foot is stronger and his ability to cut back and hit holes hard is evidenced by his 4.3 yards per carry during the playoffs. Brandon Jacobs managed 72 yards on 18 carries in the regular-season meeting. However, he runs tall at 6-foot-4, 264 pounds and is about a 50-50 proposition on third- and fourth-and-1 carries. A quick nod to undrafted rookie FB Henry Hynoski, whose emergence as a lead blocker has coincided with the improved ground game, and he'll catch the occasional short-yardage pass.
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