FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Earlier this season, the Patriots ranked among the NFL’s leaders in rushing defense. They hadn’t allowed an opposing running back to surpass 100 yards in 21 straight games dating to last year.
The last two weeks, the other team has run all over them. New England is now ranked 19th in the league against the run, allowing 117.6 yards per game.
Next up are the Miami Dolphins and Reggie Bush, who has rushed for a career-high 973 yards this season, including 203 and a 76-yard touchdown run against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Washington rookie Roy Helu exposed the Patriots two weeks ago by gashing the defense for 126 of the Redskins’ 170-yard rushing total. Then came Denver’s top-ranked running game.
Tim Tebow and the Broncos amassed 167 yards rushing in the first quarter alone en route to 252 yards.
The Patriots are now even more vulnerable against the run after leading pass rusher Andre Carter was lost to a season-ending leg injury last week.
Bush brings three straight 100-yard games to New England (11-3) on Saturday when he and the Dolphins will try to snap the AFC East champions’ six-game winning streak.
“When you think of Reggie Bush, you just think electric plays,” Patriots defensive end Shaun Ellis said. “So far that’s what he’s been getting. So for us, we just got to pay attention to our keys, read our blocks, get off the blocks and make the tackle.”
Bush rushed for just 38 yards on 11 attempts in a season-opening 38-24 loss to the Patriots. He did catch nine passes for 56 yards and a touchdown and has 1,243 yards from scrimmage this season.
“He’s a special guy,” New England linebacker Rob Ninkovich said. “A guy like Reggie can do a lot of different things. … So, you’ve just got to make sure you don’t let him do those things.”