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Week 6 Risers and Fallers: Brady and Offense Fail to Close on Road Against Seattle

In what's become a troubling trend, Tom Brady and the offense completely choked in the fourth quarter while nursing a comfortable lead. 

After throwing the ball at will in the first half, New England managed just six points during the game's final 30 minutes, blowing a 23-10 fourth-quarter lead. 

Although much credit has to be given to Seattle's rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, this loss wasn't on the defense. 

If the offense had done what it was supposed to do—what it was built to do—the Patriots would have stomped on the Seahawks' jugular and put the game out of reach. 

Instead, New England played not to lose and ultimately did. 

In a game that featured uncharacteristically bad coaching moments, untimely mistakes and horrific secondary play, let's take a look at this week's risers and fallers. 

 

Risers

1. Wes Welker, WR: If there's any doubt that Wes Welker is an elite receiver, erase it from your mind. Despite his Week 1 mistreatment, New England's slot machine has proven his worth ten times over. Even after taking some vicious hits by Seattle's monstrous secondary, Welker emerged with 10 catches for 138 yards and a score, cementing himself as the premier go-to guy in the game. 

2. Chandler Jones, DE: New England's top pick continued to shine on a defense that generally played well until the fourth quarter. Jones has been a one-man wrecking crew as a pass-rusher and leads the team with five sacks in just six games. Once considered to be a reach, Jones is the clear front-runner for the Defensive Rookie of the Year. 

3. Danny Woodhead, RB: Although Woodhead has never replicated his magical 2010 debut with the Pats, he's actually been an invaluable weapon for Josh McDaniels this season. He's not the fastest or the biggest guy, but he always manages to pick up key first downs due to his shiftiness and ability to fight for yards after contact. The diminuitive third-down back carried the ball four times for 25 yards (6.3-yard average) and caught five passes for 92 more. 

 

Fallers

1. Tom Brady, QB: At first glance, Brady's 395 passing yards and two touchdowns look great. Looking further, it was clear Tom was anything but terrific in Seattle. Because of the Seahawks' inpenetrable run defense, Brady as forced to throw the ball 58 times Sunday. With his team in position to put the game out of hand, Brady threw two critical interceptions and was called for two intentional grounding penalties. The weather certainly played a factor (as did Seattle's pass rush), but overall Brady failed to put the game out of hand—something that used to be automatic earlier in his career. 

2. Bill Belichick and the coaching staff: Belichick prides himself on preparation and in-game execution, but the Patriots lacked both in their one-point defeat. The offense didn't look in sync at all in the second half, as the running game was a complete non-factor. Belichick made some interesting changes on defense, moving Rob Ninkovich to linebacker and starting Jermaine Cunningham at left end, but it didn't make much of a difference. Coupled with the poor timeout management, and New England showed a complete lack of organization in the game's critical moments. 

3. Every Defensive Back: At this point, I'm at a loss for words. Every year the Patriots' biggest chink in the armor is their secondary, and every year we supposedly "upgrade" at the position. I've yet to see the fruits of that labor. Kyle Arrington was burned so badly that he was benched in favor of undrafted free agent Alfonzo Dennard—who sadly might be the team's best corner. Devin McCourty was strong in the run game, but you don't take a corner in the first round because he can tackle. New England's safeties, especially Pat Chung, are horrible at taking the proper angles to the ball and never seem to be in position to make big plays. Since 2008, Belichick has devoted first- or second-round picks in Terrence Wheatley, Chung, Darius Butler, McCourty, Ras-I Dowling and Tavon Wilson and has little to show for it. I'll never understand how he can be called a "defensive genius" if he keeps swinging and missing on the secondary. 

4. Pass Rush: The issues with the secondary go hand-in-hand with the play up front. Besides Chandler Jones, New England is getting NOTHING from the rest of its defensive linemen. After making a few plays as an interior rusher, Jermaine Cunningham was nonexistent as a defensive end. Vince Wilfork plays hard and is still one of the best defensive tackles in the game, but he isn't making game-changing plays like he did in 2011. None of the other linemen on this team get to the QB like Jones, which means teams will just start doubling him until someone else provides any semblance of pressure. 

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