SAN DIEGO — The old up-down drill is a time-honored and dreaded part of any football regimen. Players hate it. Hopefully, they feel just a tad better about our version of an up-down drill. Well, maybe not. So without further adieu here is who left San Diego on the ascent and who left on the decline following the Patriots’ thrilling 23-20 victory.
1. Vince Wilfork — This is a case of the stat sheet not telling the whole story. According to the official stats Wilfork only had one tackle. Don’t be fooled. There was a reason the Patriots had Wilfork at left defensive end, and it was because the Chargers like to run to their right. San Diego ended up with a season-low 38 yards rushing on 19 carries and Wilfork was a big reason why. He was dominant.
2. Jerod Mayo — It was another monster game in the middle for Mayo. He had 11 tackles — his third straight game with 10 or more — did a good job in the open field against Darren Sproles, and recovered the Kris Wilson fumble that led to the Patriots’ first-half touchdown.
3. Sergio Brown — The rookie made his impact felt in his first NFL game. He came up with a huge third-down stop on Antonio Gates on the Chargers’ final possession of the game and had four tackles total. Brown was pressed into significant action after Patrick Chung left in the first half with a knee injury. (When approached by reporters post-game and asked about his knee, Chung said, “It’s alright.”) The Patriots needed three safeties as part of their sub package and Brown was able to fill in and do a solid job. He also had a heavy load on special teams.
1. Jake Ingram — It’s never good when you notice a long-snapper. It was a tough start to the day for Ingram on punt team. He bounced two snaps in the dirt and had a holding penalty in the first half. He recovered nicely though, and his snaps were on the money on Stephen Gostkowski’s three field goals.
2. Matt Light — Stop me if you’ve heard this before, Light sometimes has trouble with speed rushers. It was the case yesterday in the first half with Antwan Barnes. Barnes had a pair of sacks in the red zone during the first half. The first was on third and goal from the 11. The second was on third and goal from the 9 and had a Light illegal-use-of-hands penalty tacked on for good measure. It looked like the Patriots tried to keep a tight end over to help a little more in the second half.
3. Dan Connolly — Connolly has done a very good job filling in for Logan Mankins at left guard and acting as a goal line/short-yardage fullback — “Thunder Dan” — but the Patriots pulled him after the first half in favor of Ryan Wendell against San Diego. It looked like most of the run plays the Patriots tried to run in the first half had right guard Stephen Neal pulling. Part of that was trying to run away from Chargers defensive end Luis Castillo, but it seemed there was some concern about Connolly.