The award for the Sprint Week 11 Game Ball had a few contenders. Of course, there was Tom Brady who once again was accurate as can be on his way to a 19/24, two touchdown game. There was also the combination of Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis at running back, who set the tone for the Patriots offense.
Ultimately, I went with the Patriots player who made a game clinching play for the second straight week. In week ten against the Steelers, Sanders intercepted a fourth quarter Ben Roethlisberger throw, bringing it to the house, and giving the Pats an insurmountable lead. This week, with the Colts driving with less than a minute left, James Sanders came up with another game-sealing play. Thanks in part to a good pass rush from Jermaine Cunningham, Sanders was able to move off of Jacob Tamme, jump up and snag an errant Peyton Manning pass intended for Pierre Garcon.
It was a huge play. And it comes down to this: good players make good plays. James Sanders has been with this Patriots team since 2005. He was the starting safety on the Patriots 16-0 2007 team. After another solid year in 2008, Sanders somewhat surprisingly signed a three year extension worth nine million dollars, which seemed like a good deal. Yet in 2009, he lost his starting job for a good portion of the season to Brandon McGowan, and much of the Patriot fan base gave up on him. In fact, many believed he would be a salary-based casualty this training camp.
Without a role, Sanders just continued to work hard. He's one of those players that's always the first one in to the building, last one out. He is a leader, smart. While he's never been the greatest athlete, he makes up for it with his work ethic on and off the field. This year, while initially expected to be a reserve player, he's played the majority of the defensive snaps. Last night, we saw all of his hard work pay off yet again.