FOXBOROUGH,Mass.- BenJarvus Green-Ellis, better known as “Bennie” to his teammates on the New England Patriots, gained 4 yards on four carries in the first half of the Patriots game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. As a team, the Patriots had 9 yards rushing at the half.

By the end of the game, Green-Ellis had rushed for a career-high 112 yards, scored two touchdowns, and carried the Patriots to a 28-18 victory at Gillette Stadium.

The difference, according to Coach Bill Belichick, wasn’t anything elaborate. “Let’s not make this complicated,” he said.

Basically, the Patriots blocked better in the second half and therefore ran better.

“It really is” that simple, said tight end Alge Crumpler, one of the best blockers on the team. “It comes down to us.”

Sometimes, said Belichick, it takes just one play to spark something. That came on the Patriots’ first run of the third quarter, when Green-Ellis ran for 10 yards behind left tackle Matt Light and Crumpler. Two plays later, Brady hit Brandon Tate for a 65-yard touchdown on a broken play and the Patriots were rolling.

Offensive guard Stephen Neal, who laid out a crushing kick-out block on Green-Ellis’ 13-yard touchdown run with 2:25 left in the third that made it 21-10, was appreciative that the coaches didn’t give up on the run.

“We ran a lot of the same plays,” he said. “I guess we’re a good conditioned team and the coordinators stuck with it, even though we didn’t have much success (in the first half). That’s great.”

The running game really came alive in the fourth quarter, when the Patriots had to hold off the Vikings, who pulled within 21-18 after Brett Favre was knocked out of the game with a lacerated jaw that required eight stitches,

New England gained 72 rushing yards in the fourth, all but one by Green-Ellis.

“Coaches coach,” said Crumpler. “But when it gets into the fourth quarter, it’s all up to the players. We know that.”

Green-Ellis now leads the team with 371 rushing yards. He’s a player who went undrafted out of college, but is now the lead back on a 6-1 NFL team. He doesn’t know quite what to make of it.

“Of course I enjoy taking the ball,” he said. “But as long as we’re moving the team downfield, I’m happy.”

 

THE PATRIOTS are now 16-1 against NFC teams at home. The lone loss came in the very first game an NFC team played in Gillette Stadium, back on Oct. 13, 2002. The team was the Green Bay Packers. The quarterback was Brett Favre.

New England also improved to 4-0 at home wearing their red-white-and-blue throwback jerseys.

 

WHEN FAVRE got knocked out of the game with 7:35 left in the third quarter — after taking a hit by Patriot defensive tackle Myron Pryor — the Vikings weren’t sure how to react. His toughness is legendary and he started this game — his NFL-record 288th in a row — despite a badly injured ankle.

Back-up quarterback Tavaris Jackson didn’t even move to put on his helmet “because he always gets up.”

This time Favre wasn’t getting up. His jaw was bleeding profusely. “I didn’t think it was too bad,” said running back Adrian Peterson, “until I saw him unbuckle his chin straps and it was leaking pretty good.”

 

JORDAN TALBOT of Portland won the 12-13 boys division in the Patriots’ Punt, Pass and Kick competition. The scores of the 10 age category winners for the Patriots team championship will be compared to the winners from the other 31 NFL clubs to determine whether they qualify for the national competition.

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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