Commentary

Woodhead's game says it all

In true Patriots style, former Jet insists winning -- not revenge -- was his motivator

Updated: December 7, 2010, 8:35 AM ET
By Steven Krasner | ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Revenge was not on Danny Woodhead's mind.

Not in the least, if you believe the New England Patriots running back.

Forget for a moment that when this season began Woodhead was a member of the New York Jets. Forget for a moment that after the first week of the season the Jets cut him, sending the pride of Division III Chadron State to the unemployment line.

Forget all of that.

Woodhead, quickly claimed by New England after the Jets had dumped him, insisted that he didn't have extra incentive Monday night when the Patriots hosted New York in a key AFC East clash at Gillette Stadium.

[+] EnlargeDanny Woodhead
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesWoodhead hauled in four passes for a team-high 104 yards, becoming the first New England back to rack up 100 receiving yards since Kevin Faulk in 2003.

But when the cameras were turned off and he was driving home, it would have been natural for Woodhead to permit himself at least a chuckle or two because he was a solid contributor in the Patriots' 45-3 demolition of the Jets, improving New England's record to 10-2 and dropping New York to 9-3.

The diminutive Woodhead hauled in four passes for a team-high 104 yards, becoming the first New England back to rack up 100 receiving yards since Kevin Faulk in 2003. Ironically, Woodhead has filled in admirably for Faulk, who was injured against the Jets in the second game of the season. Woodhead also rushed for 11 yards on two carries.

Woodhead said he had not gained any extra measure of satisfaction just because his big night came against the Jets.

"We won the game. Any time you win the game that's the important thing. I'm not too worried about who it was against," Woodhead said.

Not even a little?

"Not really. This is where I am. I'm a New England Patriot. Was I one of those guys? Yeah, but it's not something I dwell on. I'm a New England Patriot. I want to do my best for this team," he said.

Woodhead was most impressive on the next-to-last play of the third quarter. With the Pats facing a third-and-4 at the New England 38, quarterback Tom Brady took the snap in the shotgun and shoveled a quick forward lateral to Woodhead, who was positioned to his left. Woodhead caught the ball in stride, raced around the left end and eluded the Jets' defenders until finally being hauled down at the Jets' 12. The 50-yard scamper set up Brady's 1-yard TD pass to Aaron Hernandez two plays later, extending the Pats' lead to 38-3.

"That was something we obviously ended up falling into that ended up working," said Woodhead of the shovel pass. "We're happy when something like that happens. The linemen made a couple of good blocks, the receiver made a good block. All I really needed to do was run the ball."

It seems like Woodhead does something positive every game to help the team win, be it on runs from scrimmage, or catching passes, or making special-teams tackles.

Woodhead's teammates -- on the Pats and the Jets -- have been impressed by his play, especially given his small-for-the-NFL stature.

"He did a lot of really good things for us when he was here," said Jets offensive tackle Damien Woody, a former Patriot.

"It was one of those situations that it was a numbers game and, unfortunately, we had to let him go. He's doing his thing here, and more power to him. It's a great story. He's a hard worker and just the fact that he came back off an injury -- he'd torn his ACL -- so just coming back off of that, and getting the opportunity here and making the most of that, that's really a feel-good story," Woody said.

"As much as it feels bad [to lose] ... I really am happy for him, he deserves it because he worked extremely hard to get where he's at right now," Woody said.

New England's Wes Welker is happy to have Woodhead in a Patriots uniform.

"Danny's a heckuva player," said Welker, himself an overachiever at wide receiver considering his size. "He has done such a good job for us. We got a guy who was out on the streets and he has been a big addition for us. If he continues to do it, it will work out well for us."

It's a team game, though, and the result was an important one for the Patriots, not for him personally, Woodhead said.

"It was a big-time atmosphere, a division game, both teams 9-2. We needed to win the game. That's what was important to us. The hype was not really a big deal for this team. We were concerned about going to work every day and preparing for the game, and then we wanted to go out and do our best," Woodhead said.

"There are a lot of good players on our team," he added. "The coaches do a good job of putting us in positions to succeed. You saw that a lot tonight."

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