Just four days after their blowout win over the Miami Dolphins, the New England Patriots blew out the Indianapolis Colts. While yesterday’s the game was at times a sloppier one than Sunday’s it again saw a high-powered Patriots team that displayed its enormous potential. With that in mind let’s take a look at some of the standouts from Sunday.
Winner: WR Julian Edelman
Coming off a four-game suspension on top of a year missed due to a torn ACL, Julian Edelman looked as fluid and dangerous a players as ever. The veteran was quickly thrown into the fire, and registered two catches on the contest’s opening possession. Overall, he finished with seven catches for 57 yards and two punt returns for 20 yards. It was a vintage Edelman performance.
Winner: RB James White
In his Fan Notes from the Patriots’ win over Miami, Alec Shane wrote that James White “may be the most important player on this offense not named Tom Brady”. Yesterday, he again showed why this does not sound like an exaggeration – especially in the passing game. Serving as a safety net receiver, the first-year team captain finished with a team-high 10 catches for 77 yards and one touchdown.
Winner: RB Sony Michel
Following an impressive performance against the Dolphins, Sony Michel had another very good game and became the first Patriots rookie running back to have back-to-back 95-yard rushing performances since Robert Edwards in 1998. Michel played a big role in the Patriots’ offense and finished with 110 yards from scrimmage: he had 98 rushing yards on 18 carries and also caught a 12-yard pass. The standout play of his night was a 34-yard touchdown run that essentially iced the game in New England’s favor.
Losers: WR Chris Hogan & TE Rob Gronkowski
While Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski did not have bad games per se, the two pass catchers made two of the Patriots’ worst plays of the night. In the third quarter, Hogan let a short pass go through his hands for an interception. On the very next drive, Gronkowski was hit after catching a 20-yard pass that would have set up goal-to-go and lost the ball. Both times, New England was in scoring range but came away empty due to the receivers not being able to hold onto the football.
Winner: QB Tom Brady
With Julian Edelman – a wide receiver with whom he shares a well-documented connection – back in the lineup, Tom Brady looked more calm than he did at times through the first four weeks of the season. All in all, the 41-year old played a great game: Brady was accurate and made great decisions, and the two turnovers on his stat sheet were also not his fault. Overall, he finished the night with 34 pass completions on 44 attempts for 341 yards, three touchdowns and two picks. He also scored on a quarterback sneak at set a new record for different touchdown recipients.
Winner: The Pass protection
Julian Edelman and James White and their outstanding abilities to get open quickly played a part in it, but the Patriots’ pass protection in general was again outstanding yesterday. Going against a team that entered the game with 17.0 sacks on its résumé, New England’s blockers up front were able to keep Tom Brady clean. The unit did not give up a single sack and allowed just three quarterback hits.
Winner: SS Patrick Chung
During the Patriots’s back-to-back losses in Jacksonville and Detroit, the absence of Patrick Chung undoubtably hurt the team’s defense. Yesterday, he again showed why he is such an important player for the unit against both the pass and the run: The veteran finished the day with 11 tackles, a split-sack, and an interception late in the first half. Furthermore, he was his usual physical and emotional self and also had one of the best celebrations in recent memory.
Loser: FS Devin McCourty
Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon had solid overall outings against the Colts, but fellow safety Devin McCourty was far more inconsistent. While the veteran forced and recovered a fumble in the third quarter, he also was in coverage on two touchdown passes – and nearly gave up a third that was ruled short of the goal line upon review. Even though his open field tackling and vision appeared to be as good as always, his positioning was at times suspect.
Winner: CB Jason McCourty
The other McCourty brother, Jason, had a better game yesterday. Serving as the starting perimeter cornerback opposite Stephon Gilmore yet again, the first-year Patriot provided good downfield coverage, was physical as a bump-and-run defender, and made one of the game’s biggest plays when he broke up a pass that popped up into the air and the arms of fellow cornerback Jonathan Jones.
Winner: WR Josh Gordon
Josh Gordon had a quiet first half and saw his lone target fall incomplete. In the second half, however, he showed why he has the potential to be a difference maker for the Patriots: while his numbers did not stand out, Gordon made two tough catches – one of which a momentum-swinging 34-yard reception during which he out-jumped two defenders to come down with the football.