“The last so many weeks — and really all year — we’ve been in the game or been ahead in the game and have had the ability to maintain our run-pass balance, if you will,” McDaniels said. “We go into each week trying to figure out the best way to play the game . . . and so far I think that being balanced has been part of that formula.”
Being able to hand off the ball takes pressure off both Brady and the offensive line, Branch pointed out, but Brady discounted any idea that there’s any less pressure for him.
“I don’t think there’s been pressure off me in a long time,” he said, smiling. “I think that’s part of the position and probably all NFL quarterbacks feel that.
“But when your number is called, you have to be able to execute. Believe me, it’s nice to be able to hand it off and run the ball in. We’ve been balanced this year on offense. We just have to continue to keep it going.”
He is right, of course. The Patriots won’t continue to run if they aren’t running effectively. But for all of the reasons that it is a positive to do so, here’s maybe another one: The last time they finished the season with a run-pass ratio slanted toward the run was in 2004, the last year they won the Super Bowl.