South Florida’s own Sony Michel made a statement in his NFL Playoffs debut with the New England Patriots on Sunday.
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The former Plantation American Heritage standout ran for 129 yards and three first-half touchdowns on 24 carries to lead the Patriots to a 41-28 win over the Los Angeles Chargers and advance to the AFC Championship Game for an eighth consecutive season. New England will face the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday for a spot in Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta.
Michel, who the Patriots drafted with the 31st overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft out of the University of Georgia, is just the third rookie in NFL history to run for three touchdowns in a single playoff game, joining the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Leonard Fournette (Jan. 14, 2018, vs Pittsburgh Steelers) and the San Francisco 49ers’ William Floyd (Jan. 7, 1995, vs. Chicago Bears). He is also just the third player ever in Patriots history to score at least three rushing touchdowns in a playoff game. The others: LeGarrette Blount (three TDs on Jan. 18, 2015, and four TDs on Jan. 11, 2014, both against the Colts) and Curtis Martin (Jan. 5, 1997, vs. the Steelers).
It’s just the latest accomplishment in Michel’s rookie season. The 5-11, 215-pound running back finished the regular season 15th in the NFL with 931 rushing yards despite missing three games with a knee injury. His 71.6 rushing yards per game ranked second among all rookies, behind only the New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley (81.7).