Patriots RB Dion Lewis jukes his way into big play
New England Patriots defensive lineman Chandler Jones was impressed with Dion Lewis and wanted the entire locker room to know it.
Walking past a crowd of reporters after the Patriots’ 36-7 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night, Jones shouted out: ”Dion Lewis: No. 1 in the NFL at making guys miss!”
Lewis had a spectacular move in the first quarter to turn a short pass into a 19-yard gain. He also had a 17-yard catch on a third-and-16 and added a 16-yard touchdown reception against Miami as the Patriots (7-0) remained unbeaten on the season.
In all, Lewis caught six passes for 93 yards – every one of them for a first down – and also ran five times for 19 yards.
”He’s a dynamic player,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski, adding his voice to the chorus of praise for Lewis. ”The dude is unreal with the way he can move. I don’t know if anyone else can move like that. The way he can cut. He’s great to have on the team.”
A fifth-round pick in 2011 who was cut by the Browns and Colts, Lewis has found a role with the Patriots as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. He has run 45 times for 220 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season, but he also has 349 yards on 32 catches and two receiving touchdowns; every one of those statistics is a career-high.
”He’s dynamic in the run game and the passing game, and he’s tough to tackle,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. ”He’s so quick in space. It would kind of be a miracle for anybody to touch him. He’s just a dynamic player. He keeps making them miss.”
Lewis topped 100 yards from scrimmage in each of the first two games this season. He had games of 67, 93 and 39 yards before an abdominal injury kept him out of Sunday’s game against Dallas.
But Lewis returned on Thursday night and got Jones’ attention in the first quarter on the first play after the Patriots took over at their own 15 following a Dolphins punt.
Catching a pass from Brady in the left flat, Lewis took a stutter step that got Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi lunging awkwardly in the wrong direction. Lewis then picked up another 15 yards after the catch.
Lewis even faked out the NFL’s Twitter account, which sent out the video and called it ”the spin move to end all other spin moves combined” – even though he didn’t even spin.
”It’s just reaction to what the defender’s giving me,” Lewis said. ”I try to read them as much as I can.”
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said he didn’t really foresee Lewis’ pass-catching ability when they signed him at the end of last season. Lewis hadn’t played in an NFL game since 2012; he was cut twice in three weeks, by Cleveland and Indianapolis, at the start of the 2014 season.
But McDaniels said Lewis’ ability to make plays in open space helped him carve out a role in the passing game.
”Some of that kind of evolves as the week goes on. We let them all kind of have an opportunity to do that,” McDaniels said. ”In Dion’s case, he’s been a productive guy in a lot of different areas for us.
”He’s a very unselfish guy, team guy, whatever role we ask of him he’s ready to go in there and do the best that he can.”
AP freelancer Ken Powtak contributed to this story.