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Week 6 Risers and Fallers

No Gronk.

No Wilfork.

No Kelly.

No Vereen.

then…

No Connolly.

No Talib.

No Amendola.

No Mayo.

In the end, the Patriots were left with Tom Brady and seventy-three seconds.  In the end, that was enough to defeat the undefeated New Orleans Saints.  When Kenbrell Thompkins came down with that ball in the end zone, I nearly lost it.  Ok, I did lose it.  I've been known to get more than a little crazy during big moments for the Pats, but this victory got me particularly amped up.  It wasn't just about getting to 5-1, or beating the Saints and Drew Brees.  This win was about pure pride.  I was proud of Tom Brady.  I was proud of Kenbrell, and Aaron, and Julian, and Austin, and the amazing defense this team played all afternoon.  After weeks and weeks of hearing how they weren't good enough.  After a poor, poor showing last week that left even myself doubting if they were ready to tackle a team as good as the Saints, the Patriots displayed the resolve and determination that has come to define this organization.  In that moment, I was as proud as I've even been to be a fan of the New England Patriots. 

Post-season games aside, I'm having a hard time remembering a game that got me as pumped up as yesterday's.  

2012's overtime comeback against the Jets?  Nope.

2011's victory of Rob Ryan's Cowboys?  Nope.

2010's overtime win against the Ravens?  Close, but nope. 

2009's opener against Buffalo where Brady came back after his injury and threw two touchdowns in the final two minutes to win?  Closer, but not quite.

2008's come from behind win in Seattle to keep the playoff hopes alive?  No.

2007's narrow win against Baltimore?  Or how about the frantic win over the Giants to secure the undefeated 16-0 record?   I think we've found our winners here.  

Games like these are why we tune in every week. It's why I'm deathly afraid to miss a game.  You only get a one high like this every season, maybe two if you're lucky.  Wins as meaningful as yesterdays happen only once or twice per decade.  And you know what?  Seeing Rex Ryan's doppleganger moan on the sidelines after Brady's perfect game-winning throw was just icing on the cake!

Here's this week's Risers and Fallers.

Risers:

Tom Brady (QB) – While he was far from perfect on Sunday, Brady did what he needed to do to get his team the win.  With the Patriots high-flying offense racking up big leads for the majority of the past 4-5 seasons, we haven't been able to witness much of the magic that Brady performed week in and week out in his early years.  That was a vintage game-winning drive that was run to near perfection.

Kenbrell Thompkins (WR) – The rookie had a relatively quiet day, but came up with some big grabs (none bigger than his final one) and didn't make any major mistakes.  

Stephen Gostkowski (K) – The Ghost was incredible once again, nailing a crucial career-long 54 yarder.  Gostkowski has simply been on fire this season.

Aqib Talib (DB) – While his day was cut short due to a hip injury, Talib was nothing short of spectacular with his shut-down coverage of Jimmy Graham.  No insult to Ty Law, but I'm struggling to remember a time when the Patriots had such a dominant corner.

Stevan Ridley (RB) – Ex-Foxboro Blog contributor, Stephen Sheehan told me before the game that Ridley would have to have a huge game for the Patriots to beat the Saints.  Two touchdowns and 96 yards later, and Stephen was proved right.

Michael Hoomanawanui (TE) – Early on in the game, he had me saying, "Gronk who?"

 

Somewhere in the middle:

Aaron Dobson (WR) – I want to put Dobson on the risers list for his contributions to the game-winning drive.  However, his drop to start the game and his follow-up drop on 4th down late in the game prevent me from doing so.

 

Fallers:

Steve Gregory (S) – The veteran made a bad read and came up a second too short on the Saints final touchdown play.  It was a near-fatal mistake.

Marcus Cannon (DT) – Subbing in for the injured Dan Connolly, Cannon allowed Brady to be pancaked on his first snap.  

Brandon Bolden (RB) – Bolden continues to drop wide-open passes, the worst of which prevented a Patriots first down after the Saints took the lead late in the 4th. 

Danny Amendola (WR) – I know it's not his fault, but another injury is the last thing this team needed from him.

Derek Hanson

About Derek Hanson

Doctor by day, blogger by night, Derek Hanson is the founder of the Bloguin Network and has been a Patriots fan for more than 20 years.

Week 6 Risers and Fallers

On a beautiful afternoon in Foxboro, the stage was set for a scoring fest between the Cowboys and Patriots.

The results weren’t pretty, but with Tom Brady flashing his signature comeback ability, New England secured its 20th consecutive home victory.

Sitting at 5-1 heading into its bye week, the Pats will have a chance for some key players to heal up, but before that, let’s take a look at the key performers on Sunday.

Risers

1. Brandon Spikes: The former Florida Gator showed why he was once regarded as a first-round talent early in his collegiate career. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder made the most of his size and physicality as he recorded six solo tackles, one for a loss and a quarterback hit. After an up and down performance against the Jets, Spikes seemed to play with a lot of confidence and was a definite difference maker as a blitzer and run defender. With more experience and confidence from the coaching staff and himself, Spikes will be an asset moving forward.

2. Andre Carter: Much has been made by the underwhelming contributions from Albert Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis, but Carter has been better than advertised. The no-nonsense Carter has been the Patriots best pass rusher and a plus run defender. Carter came up big for the Pats on Saturday, using his speed to beat first-rounder Tyron Smith for a sack on Tony Romo on third down. He also recorded four solo tackles, including two for loss.

3. Tom Brady: If not for the final drive, Brady could have been in the fallers category. I guess winning solves everything, right? The reigning MVP was pressured by Demarcus Ware and Co. all day long, but engineered a signature game-winning drive to put the knife in the Ryan Brothers coffins. Brady showed terrific accuracy on the final drive, fitting the ball into tight windows against good coverage. It certainly wasn’t Brady’s best statistical day, and his two interceptions were bad decisions, but he showed why he Tony Romo isn’t in his class: he comes up in the clutch.

 

Fallers

1. Pass protection: For the second straight week, the offensive line did not give Brady good protection. While some of that can be attributed to the Ryan brothers, there were some plays where guys were beaten one-on-one. Logan Mankins was beaten with a swim move by Marcus Spears for a sack, and Ware abused Matt Light for one of his two sacks with a speed rush. Nate Solder has also been up and down, although he’s been solid as a rookie.

2. Tackling by secondary: It’s been a consistent problem for this undersized group. Last year’s rookie sensation, Devin McCourty, simply hasn’t been making the plays he did in 2010. Laurent Robinson broke McCourty’s tackle attempt en route for a big gain. Pat Chung laid some big hits, but also missed some easy ones. Bigger receivers continue to give the Pats some problems, although they won’t be facing two elite receivers like Dez Bryant and Miles Austin weekly.

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