EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 13: Andre Carter #93 of the New England Patriots sacks Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 13, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
When a team has as complete of a game as the Patriots did on Sunday night against the Jets, it can become difficult to hand out a "game ball" to a single player. This week especially, there were several players who seemingly could have snared the award for the Samsung Game Ball of the Week.
Tom Brady, in the second half, had arguably his best half of football all year. Unfortunately for him, he looked a touch erratic in the first half and that contributed to him not receiving the award. The recognition also could have gone to Rob Gronkowski who, in addition to his eight catches for 104 yards (he's caught seven or more Tom Brady catches four straight weeks), reeled in two key touchdowns for the Patriots. Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich was also deserving - his two second half interceptions essentially shut the door on any Jets comeback attempt, and his pick-six was the nail in the coffin.
Ultimately, I decided to go with Patriots defensive end Andre Carter. Carter was a terrific force on the defensive front for the Patriots. Carter came up with 4.5 sacks in the game and had at least three additional pressures that I can recall. He could have had an extra sack had Mark Sanchez not thrown the ball into the turf while falling backwards on a play (it was called intentional grounding). Carter's production helped shut the Jets passing attack down on several drives, and even more impressively, all of the work that Carter did was against Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson - who is amidst an all-pro caliber year (according to Pro Football Focus, Ferguson had allowed just seven pressures and three sacks all year prior to Sunday.
The Patriots have been looking for an answer to rush the quarterback all year, and it seemed that the Patriots finally found a combination Sunday against the Jets that worked. Carter, who has logged 8.5 sacks over the past four games, seemed to be at his best when rushing alongside defensive end Mark Anderson. Anderson's speed and agility as a rusher have allowed him to get up the field quickly and redirect quarterbacks out of the pocket or into bad throws. This has allowed Andre Carter, who compliments Anderson's skillset nicely, to pick up some extra sacks.
Overall, it's hard not to give a game ball to a guy who set a franchise regular season record for most sacks in a game. Andre Carter has provided the Patriots pass rush a spark in recent weeks. Now, it's up to him and the rest of the pass rushing personnel to create that pressure on a consistent basis. With the injuries and struggles the Patriots have had in the secondary, they need pass rush production similar to what they got from Andre Carter and company against the Jets on a week-in and week-out basis.
Week 1: Tom Brady
Week 2: Tom Brady
Week 3: Wes Welker
Week 4: Wes Welker
Week 5: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Week 6: Brandon Spikes / Andre Carter
Week 8: Kevin Faulk
Week 9: Rob Gronkowski
Week 10: Andre Carter