we already knew Blount graded well;
New England– Three Performances of Note
Blount Steals the Show
As mentioned, LeGarrette Blount was the story of the afternoon as he ran for 189 yards on 24 carries to grade at +3.0 overall and he added two kickoff returns for 145 yards and a +2.8 return grade. The only blemish was one fumble, perhaps due to the slippery weather. Blount forced seven tacklers to miss and he picked up 91 of his yards after contact. There were a number of plays that appeared destined to be a short gain, but Blount continued to move the pile to turn it into an eight or nine-yard effort. Other times, he was elusive enough that no one touched him, as was the case on his first touchdown at the 12:22 mark of the second quarter. The Patriots ran power to the left, but Blount found a cutback lane against the flow of the play and he hit the hole and was gone for a 36-yard score. He finished the day in style with a 35-yard run with 2:40 to go in the game as this time he patiently waited for the play to develop before hitting the hole, stiff-arming safety Jim Leonhard up the sideline, and taking it all the way to help clinch the bye for New England. It was an impressive all-around day for Blount.
Siliga Controls the Middle
The numerous injuries up front may have paved the way for the Patriots to discover DT Sealver Siliga who has played extremely well in recent weeks. He graded at +3.5 on the day, notching seven stops including a sack. He shed blocks and found the football throughout the game, usually controlling the guards, but he even got the best of Pears at the 10:22 mark of the second quarter. For the season, he’s grading at +6.6 on 221 snaps, with 14 stops in just five games. Siliga has become a huge part of the Patriots defensive line rotation and he’ll be a key player to watch come playoff time.
Strength at Tackle
A week ago it was the interior of the Patriots’ offensive line that had a strong day against the Baltimore Ravens, but this time it was offensive tackles Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon who led the way, grading at +3.6 and +4.1 respectively. They were both perfect in pass protection on 29 dropbacks while doing fine work in the running game. Solder often does his best work at the second level and he stayed true to form with a pancake of LB Nigel Bradham at the 12:54 mark of the first. Cannon graded at +1.6 as a run blocker as he sealed Bryant a number of times but also getting to the second level as he did against Alonso with 4:07 to go in the second quarter. The offensive tackles led the way on Sunday.
- Patriots DE Chandler Jones played 69 of 70 snaps in the game, bringing his season total to 1,141 for the season, most ever for defensive lineman since PFF started in 2008. Teammate Rob Ninkovich is second all-time with 1,114.
- Kiko Alonso played all 75 snaps Sunday and finished the season playing all 1,177 of the Bills’ defensive snaps.
- Thad Lewis graded at +2.6 in a clean pocket but only -2.2 when pressured.
PFF Game Ball
LeGarrette Blount was the best player on the field, grading at +3.0 overall and +2.8 as a returner.