Rob Gronkowski: Sony Michel helps balance Patriots

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski enjoyed a good outing in Thursday night's 38-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Gronkowski totaled six catches for 75 yards on seven targets, his most productive game since Week 1.

While having wide receiver Julian Edelman back on the field after a four-game suspension provided a spark, Gronkowski said the emergence of rookie running back Sony Michel helped set up the passing game.

"The offensive line is doing a great job, but the way [Michel] is running the ball just helps the play-action out hugely," Gronkowski said on the Thursday Night Football postgame show. "I caught a couple play-action passes today and it's all because of that reason. The way he runs the ball, the linebackers have to respect it, so it's huge to be part of this offense."

Michel rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown against the Colts, and has come on the past two games, totaling 210 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 43 carries in that span.

With Michel helping to establish the run and backfield mate James White contributing as a receiver, the Patriots unleashed a balanced offensive attack in the two-game winning streak to improve to 3-2 on the season.

"Oh, it's huge," Gronkowski said. "Just to be able to have Sony out there; James White, I mean, just a phenomenal athlete in the run and pass game."

The Patriots' ability to establish the ground game has contributed to the win-loss column. In the three wins, the Patriots totaled 394 yards rushing, averaging 131.3 yards per game. Conversely, the Patriots amassed 171 total yards in the two losses, averaging 85.5 yards per game.

Meanwhile, the Patriots effectively put the rest of the league on notice they are back after a sluggish two-game stretch in Weeks 2-3.

Defenses can no longer afford to focus solely on Gronkowski, who frequently faced double teams through the first quarter of the season.

Instead, opponents must now account for Michel's rise, White's ability to hurt teams as a receiver out of the backfield, Edelman's triumphant return and the incorporation of wide receiver Josh Gordon, who caught a touchdown Thursday night.

Oh, that Tom Brady guy is also pretty good.

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