EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J -- When Martellus Bennett went down with what appeared to be an injury to his right ankle early in the third quarter, it appeared as though the Patriots may have to go the remainder of the game without a tight end.
Rob Gronkowski went to the locker room in the first quarter with a back injury and was ruled out, leaving Bennett as the only player at his position on the game-day roster. Perhaps with that understanding, he eventually made his way to his feet, paced on the Patriots sidelines after getting checked out by the training staff, and eventually he was re-inserted to play.
"You can never count me out," Bennett said after the game. "That's just who I am. I'm just a blue-collar individual. I like to work, work hard, and try to do everything I can. There's a difference between being hurt and injured. Everyone in the NFL this time of year is hurting. Just gotta find a way to fight through it and make plays."
Bennett caught three passes for 22 yards and he carried once (which was the play on which he was hurt) for four yards. According to Pro Football Focus, he played in a possible 58 of 73 snaps despite playing through an ankle issue that has lingered since Week 5 and a shoulder injury that popped up on the Patriots practice report Friday.
"I feel good," he said. "Got a victory. Ready to get back. Ready to go again for next week, get ready for the Rams."
Bennett, as he does on a weekly basis, contributed more than his receiving numbers show. He's depended upon as a blocker in the running game as well as in the passing game, and on Sunday he served a motivational role. In the second quarter, after a five-yard reception, he picked himself up off the ground and gestured to the Patriots sidelines in order to elicit more excitement from a group that appeared to have hit an emotional lull.
"I'm an animated guy," he said with a smile. "I make animation and I'm an animated person. That's just who I am. I'm always fired up and I'm always ready to go. I just wait for my opportunities to make the most of them and when they come, I just do what I can to make a play."
He added: "I always say BYOE. That's bring your own energy. When we come to a place like this, that's something that we've gotta do. We were able to make plays when it counted."
That he's making plays for a team that's leading its division -- and with a quarterback in Tom Brady that just earned his 200th winning, tying him for the most in NFL history with Peyton Manning -- resonates with the eight-year veteran.
"I wasn't really thinking about [Brady's 200th victory]," Bennett said. "It was a milestone for me. I've never won nine games in a season before. I'm like 9-2, hell yeah! Let's go!
"He has 200 wins, I'm like [shoot], I haven't won 200 games in my life . . . This is a milestone for me, I don't think I've ever been over . 500 so just happy to be in the position we're in and play for something that matters."