Patriots Player Power Rankings: Tom Brady did all he could

Tom Brady is sacked by Denver Broncos linebacker Shane Ray in the fourth quarter.
Tom Brady is sacked by Denver Broncos linebacker Shane Ray in the fourth quarter. –Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports

COMMENTARY

At a certain point, the outcome of the Patriots-Broncos game may not have mattered to many fans.

Rob Gronkowski was limping around the bowels of Mile High Stadium, and the state of his knee will determine, in large part, the outcome of the Patriots’ season.

But of course, the game mattered to Tom Brady, who shook off Gronk’s injury quickly.

Despite his porous protection and his best pass-catchers being covered in braces, air casts, and ace-wraps, Brady kept the Patriots in the game. With the help of Stephen Gostkowski, he led a game-tying drive that sent the contest into overtime. But the Broncos offense rallied behind Brock Osweiler and C.J. Anderson for a 30-24 victory.

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Here is the Week 12 edition of the Patriots Player Power Rankings.

10. Flags — Eleven in total, and five of them on the Patriots (and one very questionable flag on a Gronkowski “pass interference’’). Just as important were the flags not thrown — like one on the game-winning touchdown.

9. Scott Chandler — He started off with a drop, and New England poured on the criticism of the unreliable pass-catcher. But he was an important cog for the offense after Gronk left, and finished with a respectable stat line: five catches for 58 yards, three first downs, and a touchdown.

8. Jabaal Sheard — Sheard had three hurries and two hits on Osweiler, via NESN.com. And his “tipped pass,’’ which led to Jones’s interception, was more of an Anthony Davis-style block.

7. Rob Gronkowski — Before leaving the game, Gronk dominated the Broncos one-on-one, then against double coverage. His finished the game with 88 yards and a touchdown. And reports about his knee injury are positive.

6. Stephen Gostkowski — Gostkowski didn’t miss a field goal on the night, and hit a 47-yarder — in icy conditions — to send the game to overtime as time expired. He’s a robot.

5. Brandon Bolden — The Patriots ground away at the Broncos for much of the game with short passes and (much) shorter rushing gains. But Bolden provided a much-needed spark with his 63-yard touchdown reception.

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4. Chandler Jones — Two tackles and a pass deflection for Jones. Oh, and this interception.

3. Rob Ninkovich — Ninkovich was largely responsible for the Broncos’ first two 3-and-outs. On the first play from scrimmage, he tackled Ronnie Hillman for a loss. On the second drive, he sacked Osweiler on a 3rd-and-11. His sharp start helped the Patriots jump out to an early lead.

2. Logan Ryan — Days before the game, Bill Belichick said, “There’s nobody more dangerous than [Demaryius] Thomas.’’ And yet, Thomas went the first 57 minutes and 29 seconds without a catch — the 36-yarder was his only reception on 13 targets. Credit goes to Ryan.

1. Tom Brady — Brady lost his favorite target, got crushed regularly by the Broncos pass rush, yet still managed 280 yards, three touchdowns, and zero turnovers in snowy, 23-degree weather.

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