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Did the Patriots run away from Ndamukong Suh?

Ndamukong Suh

After yesterday’s 35-17 Patriots victory over the Dolphins, Ndamukong Suh was asked about how the Patriots were scheming against him.

“I know they wanted to run away from me,” Suh said. “In a lot of situations, I was moving around just so they could have an idea of where I was at. At the end of the day, they are a good game planning team. You’ve got to figure out what they want to do against you. Most of the time, they were trying to run the ball away from me.”

The tape tells a different story.

Not Running Away from Ndamukong Suh

Unfortunately for the Dolphins defensive tackle, the tape tells a different story. Leaving off runs when Suh was off the field, here’s a summary of the runs at Suh. Keep in mind that the Dolphins rotated Suh out of the game fairly regularly.

  • (12:24 1st)1st and Goal from the 7. Patriots run Lewis right at Suh. LaAadrian Waddle and Rob Gronkowski block a spinning Suh out of the way, as Lewis gets to the 2.
  • (10:12 1st) 1st and 10 from the Pats 12. Patriots run right at Suh. Joe Thuney clears Suh, and Lewis gashes the Dolphins for 22 yards.
  • (8:22 1st) 1st and 10 from the 50. Rex Burkhead right at Suh, Thuney guides Suh to his right, and Burkhead gets 3 yards.
  • (13:14 3rd) 1st and 10 from the Pats 23. Lewis runs right past Suh for 25 yards. The Dolphins were running a stunt, and Shaq Mason used this to guide him out of the way, and give Lewis a huge hole.
  • (12:30 3rd) 2nd and 5. Again, right at the hole where Suh started, Lewis gets 4 yards, as Thuney again gets Suh out of the way.
  • (11:08 3rd) 1st and 10. Suh’s only tackle of the day a facemask so obvious that even Dan Fouts noticed it.
  • (8:29 3rd) 1st and 10. Mason again moves Suh out of the hole, and Burkhead gets 3 as the Dolphins defense bails him out.
  • (1:30 – 3rd) 3rd and 2. Ibid. Mason pushes Suh inside, James White goes through the hole for 4 yards and a 1st Down.

Note – on the Dolphins biggest stop of the game, where they held the Patriots on 3rd and 2, and 4th and 1 at the end of the 3rd/ start of the 4th, they ran away from Suh.

  • (11:34 4th) 2nd and 10. Again, Mason moves Suh out of the hole that Lewis uses to pick up 6 yards.
  • (4:58 4th) 1st and 10. Burkhead up the middle for 2 yards. Mason does a good job moving Suh, who is nowhere near the play when the linebackers make the tackle.
  • (4:19 4th) 2nd and 8. It’s Ted Karras’s turn to move Suh, as Burkhead goes up the middle for another 5.
  • (3:42 4th) 3rd and 3. Suh finally makes a legal hit on a runner, but Burkhead spins out of it, getting two more yards and nearly the first down.

On the day, the Patriots ran at Suh 11 times for 75 yards – averaging 6.8 yards a carry.

Running the Numbers

In all, the Patriots racked up 196 yards on 38 carries. That includes four Tom Brady kneel-downs at the end of the first half, and the end of the game. So really, it’s 200 yards on 34 carries.

On plays not run at Ndamukong Suh, the Patriots got 125 yards on 23 carries, or about 5 yards a carry. On a great number of those, Suh wasn’t on the field. When he was on the field, they ran at him about half the time.

Watching him, you could tell that his focus was on getting after Brady, and not on stopping the run.


The only way you can really say that the Patriots were running away from Suh is that they were leaving him in the rearview mirror, as Lewis did on this play.
Photo by Keith Allison

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Mike Cooney
Mike is a lifelong Boston sports fan. He's got a degree in journalism from Northeastern University, and has been writing about sports in various methods since the mid-1990's. He's gotten to meet Bobby Orr, Luis Tiant, Rich Gedman, Nomar Garciaparra, and once shut out Carlos Pena's two twin brothers in a game of foosball at McCoy Stadium.