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Gaffney, Sanders among Patriots heroes Sunday

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Patriots' Week 12 Defining Moment
'No-Names' Bail Out Patriots in Close Game

Here is this week's New England Patriots' Defining Moment. Vote for your favorite Defining Moment, and if you have a suggestion for next week's Defining Moment, post a diary or drop me a line.

Just when you thought the Thanksgiving leftovers were gone, there's plenty of humble pie yet to serve.

Both teams in the Patriots-Eagles game had defining moments. For the up-and-down Eagles, they came very, very close to knocking off the only undefeated time in the league. A.J. Feeley was fantastic, but for one pass in the first 2 minutes of the game and two passes in the last 4 minutes. For New England, champions win games in which they don't play perfectly and your opponent almost does.

The Patriots made the big plays in the fourth quarter. Tom Brady spread the ball around, but it was Brady to Wes Welker -- again -- that was the deadly combination. Welker had 3 receptions on the drive, his 10th, 11th and 12th of the game, all for first downs. Welker finished with 13 receptions for 149 yards, both career highs.

But as important as Welker was the performance of Jabar Gaffney, the only full-time holdover from last year's junior varsity receiving corps. On a night when Brady was under constant pressure and he needed to find the open man, Gaffney made the play six times, accumulating 87 yards and accounting for the only passing touchdown of the game for New England.

Meanwhile, safety James Sanders might be the Patriots' unsung hero of the season. Filling in for Rodney Harrison during his suspension and for Eugene Wilson while he was injured, Sanders has quietly held the defensive backfield together. He helped out overmatched corner Eddie Jackson on a couple deep passes, and his interception with 18 second to play sealed Sunday night's win.

In the end, teams win titles. The Patriots certainly didn't play their best game of the season, but several "no-name" players did.