FOXBORO -- Martellus Bennett admitted last week that he was dealing with injuries that were limiting him on the field, and against the Rams in Week 13, he said he put together his worst performance as a member of the Patriots.
On Monday night, with an extra day to rest his ailing ankle and shoulder, Bennett bounced back with a solid all-around game against the Ravens. He played in 54 of a possible 69 snaps, helping clear space in the running game and catching four passes for 70 yards and a score.
PATRIOTS 30, RAVENS 23
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"I knew I had to bounce back and continue to battle and get better this week for my team and myself and for the coaches," Bennett said. "I talked to all my teammates. They knew I was going to come back. I told them, I was messing around with [Matthew] Slater, I told him, 'I'm like a Phoenix, I rise from the ashes.' "
Bennett added: "It felt good to get back out there and block well. I felt like I blocked well. I had a lot of one on one blocks against [Terrell] Suggs and other guys. That's what I felt like I did a good job of this week that I didn't do a good job of last week."
Bennett was a liability at times against the Rams. He missed blocks and he had trouble making plays with the ball in his hands as a receiver. It was clear his ankle -- which he injured against the Browns in Week 5 and appeared to aggravate against the Jets in Week 11 -- was giving him fits.
But against Baltimore, he helped the Patriots in multiple facets of the game and he gave the team a 23-3 lead in the third quarter with a 19-yard touchdown grab. To make the third-down play, he jumped over linebacker Zach Orr and snared it off of Orr's left arm. Both players were fighting for the ball in the end zone, but the officials ruled it a touchdown almost immediately.
"I had it," Bennett said. "Sometimes there's one slice of pizza left and there's two hands that reach into the box. I'm always gonna get the last slice -- unless it's my wife's hand. Then I let her eat it. Only because I love her."
Bennett said that having the extra time to recover helped him physically get back to the player he expects to be.
"It was a little bit of extra time. Short practice on Saturday," Bennett said. "Coaches have been working with me very well to help me get healthy. Training staff's been doing a great job. I've been spending a lot of time in there, which I don't like, but it's worked.
"And I've been putting in a lot of extra time on my own with my own team. I've got a team of doctors I've been using for years. It's just continuing to build and getting healthier going into this next stretch."
If Bennett's starting to turn a corner physically, it could not come at a better time. At 11-2, the Patriots will have a short week to prepare for a game in Denver. Then they'll finish with division contests against the Jets and Dolphins.
"I feel a lot better," he said. "This is the best I've felt in a long time."