Former Pitt running back Dion Lewis put the finishing touches on the best season of his career on Sunday, contributing 133 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns to the New England Patriots’ 26-6 win over the New York Jets.
In the Week 17 matchup, Lewis ran for 93 yards and a touchdown, though it took him a career-high 26 attempts to do so. However, he added 40 yards and another touchdown on six catches, and his input was vital to the Patriots’ win, which set them up with the No. 1 seed in the AFC heading into the playoffs.
Specifically, the former Panther accounted for 40 percent of the Patriots’ 330 total yards, as quarterback Tom Brady struggled, connecting on just 48.6 percent of his pass attempts for a season-low 190 yards on the day. Lewis also accounted for about half of the team’s points.
Although the Patriots easily beat the Jets, who finished last in the AFC East, tougher competition lies ahead, and Brady’s performance against a weak pass defense begs questions about how he’ll fare moving forward. Given his heaviest workload since Dec. 11, he didn’t quite rise to the challenge, and that could create opportunities for Lewis to see more action.
With that said, Lewis got 32 touches on Sunday, so he was far from forgotten. In fact, he’s seen his role in the organization grow this year, and he’s posted career-best numbers as a result.
With the 2017 regular season now in the books, Lewis finished with 180 carries for 896 yards and six touchdowns. He added 214 yards and three more touchdowns on receptions, bringing his yards from scrimmage to a career-best 1,110.
Although the Patriots began the season with a running back by committee approach, it seems Lewis has set himself apart from the pack ahead of the playoffs. That’ll bode well for Pitt fans hoping to see more of him in the coming weeks.