Here are my top and bottom performers for the Patriots against the Broncos:
- WR Wes Welker: Terrific all-around performance that saw nine of his 13 catches go for first downs or touchdowns. But he was just as involved in the running game with blocks, as were all the receivers.
- DE Rob Ninkovich: Also played very well all-around as he was asked to drop into coverage at times, and played well against the run. And, of course, there were the two huge forced fumbles.
- QB Tom Brady: Picked apart the 15 blitzes by the Broncos with quick decisions, and his work making the no-huddle go was extremely impressive.
- LG Logan Mankins: Appeared to tire late coming back from injury and dealing with the no-huddle, but he was excellent outside of one false-start penalty.
- DT Kyle Love: Made two underrated great plays that I can’t get out of mind. He forced RB Ronnie Hillman to bounce a third-and-1 play with 11:26 left outside that went for no gain thanks to Devin McCourty, and then Love set the stage for Ninkovich’s forced fumble late by holding his spot against a double team.
Honorable mention: Nate Solder, Chandler Jones, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, Alfonzo Dennard, Zoltan Mesko.
On the bottom
DT Ron Brace: Had one good play in his eight snaps, but otherwise was completely ineffective as he was easily ridden out of his gap and/or ended up on the ground.
C Ryan Wendell: With a player over him, even a journeyman like DT Kevin Vickerson, the center had a tough time holding his ground as he gave up two half sacks, a hurry, 1.5 run stuffs, along with a holding penalty and a few other rough plays.
TE Daniel Fells: Had a drop and two poor run blocks in his 38 snaps.
DL Jermaine Cunningham: Was largely ineffective in his season-high 42 snaps. Have to be able to bull rush if you’re going to be a pass-rushing DT in subpackages. Not one of his strengths.
RT Sebastian Vollmer: Gave up a sack, knockdown, run stuff and a half hurry. Seemed to tire in the second half.
Others: Trevor Scott, Patrick Chung, Tavon Wilson, Devin McCourty