The New England Patriots often stress the theme that the real football season starts after Thanksgiving. Well, the Patriots have won both their games since the holiday and looked very good each time as neither the New York Jets nor the Minnesota Vikings were able to hang with the team. Let’s take a look at who stood out during the contest against Minnesota yesterday — for better or for worse.
Winner: The entire secondary
The Vikings field one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, and the Patriots secondary pretty much shut it down. The two combined for just 10 catches for 77 yards and one touchdown, its least productive output of the season when both are on the field. Cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty were outstanding against them on the boundary, as was the rest of the secondary. Rookie J.C. Jackson had an impressive day as the third cornerback while the safeties also played very well. Patrick Chung limited tight end Kyle Rudolph, while Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon did not allow any deep passes. A dominant performance.
Winner: Brian Flores
Any defense is just as good as the play calls it receives. Yesterday those calls were on point for most of the night, with coordinator Brian Flores bringing pressure when need be and calling physical man-to-man coverage schemes. New England’s defenders played a near-flawless game against a very talented opposition, and Flores consistently putting them in a position to be successful — either via his in-game calls or the game plan — is a big reason why.
Winner: DE Trey Flowers
You may have heard it before but Trey Flowers is really good. Against the Vikings, he once again proved why he is one of the NFL’s best defensive linemen and soon to be a very wealthy man: the 25-year old who is in the final year of his contract made an impact all game long and put consistent pressure on Minnesota’s offensive line and its quarterback and contributed directly to both of the team’s sacks of quarterback Kirk Cousins. Playing on the edge and as a defensive tackle, Flowers was terrific no matter how the team used him.
Loser: TE Rob Gronkowski
Coming off an encouraging performance against the Jets, Rob Gronkowski had another so-so game versus the Vikings. While he did finish with three receptions for 26 yards and was again stellar as a run blocker, the 29-year old also was responsible for three penalties which resulted in him gaining only 1 net yard on the day. Furthermore, he was banged up late in the game and had to limp off the field. He did return one series later but remained rather quiet for most of the day.
Winner: LB Dont’a Hightower
New England was willing to let the Vikings run the football all day long, but they took the bait only irregularly. Instead, Minnesota still turned to the pass as its primary method of moving the ball — especially in the short range, which put pressure on the linebackers to react quickly. They did just, with Dont’a Hightower in particular standing out. Not only did he provide regular pressure as a blitzer and finished with one quarterback hit, he also had five tackles on the day and looked good dropping into coverage. Furthermore, the veteran again served as the unit’s on-field signal caller and almost always had it in position.
Winner: FB James Develin
James Develin is becoming a regular entry as a winner, but it just shows how good of a season he is having — and yesterday’s performance might have just been his best to date. In addition to seeing considerable snaps as the lead blocker in the running game and helping the team rush for 160 yards, the 30-year old also had the most active day of his career when it comes to touching the football: Develin registered four carries for 5 yards and two touchdowns, while also adding a 9-yard catch. A huge performance.
Loser: WR Phillip Dorsett
Like Gronkowski, Phillip Dorsett looked solid last week against New York. However, the wideout was a non-factor against the Vikings even though quarterback Tom Brady spread the ball around well and he was on the field for almost one fourth of offensive snaps, Dorsett was not targeted even once. There were some questions heading into the bye whether or not he should see additional playing time over Chris Hogan as the number three wideout. Dorsett is answering them, just not the way it looked like a few weeks ago.
Winner: WR Cordarrelle Patterson
Another one of the Patriots’ depth wideouts had a solid performance: Cordarrelle Patterson, who finished the game with two catches for 53 yards, a rushing attempt for 6 yards, and two kickoff returns for 55 yards. The numbers are not spectacular, but Patterson still made an impact whenever he touched the football. Doing it all against his former team — the one that made him a first-round draft pick but was unable to use him to his strengths — certainly will be an added bonus for the 27-year old.
Pats Pulpit Live Postgame Show: Patriots 24, Vikings 10
Welcome to the Pats Pulpit Live Postgame Show!Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Sunday, December 2, 2018