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Jonas Gray 'writing a great story' after 4-TD breakout

From practice squad to Patriots hero, the first-year running back introduced himself to the NFL with a breakout night against the Colts.

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Not even Jonas Gray could believe the record-setting night he had against the Indianapolis Colts.

"I'm one of those guys, I'll probably get back tonight around 4 a.m. and just lay in bed, look up at the ceiling and just be just astonished at what's going on," the first-year New England Patriots running back told NESN.com after leading his team to a 42-20 blowout Sunday night. "Just writing a great story, man."

What a great story it is. Gray, who was toiling on the Patriots' practice squad just weeks ago, ran 38 times for 199 yards and a franchise-record four touchdowns against the Colts. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first player since 1921 to rush for four touchdowns in a game he entered with zero career rushing touchdowns.

Despite being 24 years old, Gray is playing his first NFL season. After tearing his ACL during his senior year at Notre Dame in 2011, he sat on the Dolphins' PUP list for all of 2012, spent 2013 on the Ravens' practice squad and signed a futures contract with New England in January. He was cut in August despite a promising preseason and placed on the Patriots' practice squad, a stint he said helped him prepare for his eventual breakout.

"A lot of it has to do with patience," Gray said Sunday night. "I look at it like, when I was on the practice squad, that I was working on my craft, that I was getting better every day going against the starters. Pretty much being a full-contact guy every day. That helped me."

His break finally came when Stevan Ridley went down with a season-ending knee injury. Gray was called up and immediately began contributing in a backfield platoon with Shane Vereen and James White. We got a glimpse of Gray's ability against Chicago in Week 8, when he went for 86 yards on 17 carries. But nobody saw Sunday night's explosion coming.

To put Gray's scoring binge in context, ESPN Stats and Information said he had as many rushing touchdowns by himself in Week 11 as the rest of the league combined.