During the New England Patriots 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, a lot of attention went to QB Tom Brady and WR Chris Hogan for their destruction of the Pittsburgh secondary, and to CB Malcolm Butler for shutting down Steelers WR Antonio Brown. All of the praise is deserved, but two other Patriots are flying under the radar- even if one of them has caught national attention.
According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), RT Marcus Cannon and RG Shaq Mason were two of the top seven players during the conference title games. This shouldn’t be a surprise for Cannon, who was named Second Team All Pro and earned a big new contract, but Mason is a player who hasn’t been receiving much attention.
Cannon ranked 4th of all players this weekend, with PFF noting “he was perfect in pass protection across 46 pass-blocking snaps, and though he didn’t have one of his strongest games in run blocking, he was able to generate some movement at times.” Cannon has only allowed two sacks all season and “they both came in the first week of the season against Arizona,” which makes his upcoming matching with Falcons EDGE Vic Beasley all the more important.
Mason ranked 7th this weekend and “had his second perfect game of the season in pass-protection terms,” according to PFF. “Mason’s power in the run game was on display versus Pittsburgh, moving bodies at the point of attack.”
Per @PFF_Sam, Patriots RG Shaq Mason and RT Marcus Cannon rank #1 at their respective positions since New England's bye week.— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) January 23, 2017
Cannon and Mason deserve more attention for their play because they’ve been the best right tackle and right guard in the NFL since the Patriots week 9 bye week, according to PFF. Cannon elevated into the national spotlight after he eliminated Broncos EDGE Von Miller into the national spotlight, but the Super Bowl will be a real chance for Cannon to show that he’s the best in the business.
As for Mason, he’s only in his second year and should continue to improve under the tutelage of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. Mason always seems to put together his best performances in the playoffs and he’s really rising to the occasion. If rookie LG Joe Thuney can take a similar year-two leap as Mason, then the Patriots offensive line will be regarded as the best in the league for years to come.