The New England Patriots ran right over the Baltimore Ravens 41-7 on Sunday en route to their 11th win of the season and their first victory over an opponent with a winning record away from Gillette Stadium in 2013.
In doing so, they revealed that the early-season woes they experienced when playing without Rob Gronkowski on offense can be overcome with a dedication to running the football. And New England provided a blueprint for how it will need to win in the postseason.
The Patriots' offense scored nearly 11 more points per game with Gronkowski in the lineup (just about 32, compared to 21), and his presence revealed itself most in the red zone, where the Patriots' efficiency spiked to 69 percent compared to just 38 percent when he was out.
On Sunday, New England managed 41 points (inflated by two late defensive scores), including a perfect three touchdowns in three trips to the red zone against the league's best red zone defense.
A commitment to the run
The Patriots' decisive commitment to the run early foreshadowed their game plan for the day. New England rushed the football 34 times in total, racking up 142 yards and two scores.