1. Laurence Maroney - Maroney lost the most this game, with the great success of Fred Taylor. Maroney's in a contract year and a great game would do wonders for him- but he can't get on the field. The sooner Maroney returns, the better for him. The longer? Well, it doesn't appear if the Patriots are going to miss him.
2. Dan Koppen - The Bengals have one of the worst defensive tackles pairs in the league and Koppen was mediocre. He should have had a great day, but he didn't. He stopped the Patriots first drive of the second half with a holding penalty. He didn't have a bad day (no one really did on the Patriots), but if I had to single out the low point of the offensive line, it would have been Koppen.
3. James Sanders - Sanders was great on special teams, but for a player being paid like a starter, he should be playing like a starter. On defense, Sanders was a step behind, has tried out "arm-tackling" (a big no-no) and was responsible for a rag-doll act on Bengals' tight end Jermaine Gresham's touchdown. For a player whose biggest redeeming quality was his quiet, mistake-free play, he's making noise for the wrong reasons.
Mike Wright - Wright was abused by Cedric Benson on running plays, but played well against the pass.
Matt Patricia/2nd Half Defensive Play Calling - Fantastic play calling first half, but the prevent defense in the second half is going to lose the Patriots some games down the road.
Studs after the jump.
1. Wes Welker - He's baaaaaack. What can be said? Showed his fantastic stuff, despite play calling that kept him free from heavy collisions across the middle of the field. Look for him to get an even BIGGER role as the season progresses. He's just getting started.
2. Pat Chung - Chung was tapped on the shoulder to be a starter- and he made some noise. He was always around the ball, always made the sound tackle and was a monster. He's going to be an integral part of this defense, and if he continue to play at this high level, our defense is going to be scary.
4. Brandon Tate - Returning from an injury, Tate showed the impact he can have on this team. 220 Total Yards makes him the yardage winner in this game. If he can continue to be a strong #3 receiver and an elite returnman, the Patriots should have great field position and be able to move the chains all season.
5. Tom Brady - Ho-hum day at first glance, 3 touchdown, 258 yards day on second glance. Brady was unable to connect with Moss on the deep passes, but excelled at the mid-range (15ish) passes. I'd rather see Brady throw for those 15 yarders to set up the run/short passes, but I wouldn't argue if Brady completed those bombs.
6. Devin McCourty - Welcome to the NFL Mr. First Round Pick. McCourty played like a first round pick and proved his worth. I know everyone smiled on the opening play of the game, when he pried the ball away. Look for McCourty to continue to improve as the season develops. Anyone else stoked about our secondary?
7. Fred Taylor - Forgot about him? With Maroney out for the game, Taylor took the ball and ran with it. I'd take his running game any day of the week, especially if he stays so consistent. He was good for 4 yards every time he touched the ball and even managed to break out a big run. That's something the running game has been missing.
Tully Banta-Cain - Started off the game hot, with great pressure and great run-stopping, but I'd like to see him be more consistent for a full game.
Bill O'Brien - Varied his play calling in the first half, but I want to see him coach a couple second half drives to see how he reacts to opposing coaches' adjustments. He had three "drives", one stalled by a Koppen penalty, one for a touchdown, and one at the end of the game where they ran down the clock instead of scoring a touchdown. I want to see him have three real drives.
Vince Wilfork - Big Boy played like a man possessed. He's definitely not slowing down with a new contract. This might be an unreasonable goal, but I still want to see Wilfork play more RDE (Pryor played some NT with Wilfork at RDE this game), in order to make the defensive line stronger.
Misleading statistic of the game: Stephen Gostkowski - 1/3 on field goals. The two Gostkowski missed were 47 and 56 yards. I don't think anyone expected Gostkowski to make the 56 yarder (it had the distance, but not the alignment) and the 47 seemed doomed from the start. It's not like Gostkowski missed a couple gimmes, but hopefully he can rebound next week.