The New England Patriots did not play a perfect game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, but it was perfect enough: the team went on the road to defeat the favored top seed in the AFC with a final score of 37-31, with a touchdown on the first drive of overtime being the difference. New England saw a lot of great performances during the game, but two players in particular stand out — at least according to Pro Football Focus.
The advanced analytics website named its “standouts” from the NFL’s championship round and among them are Patriots right guard Shaq Mason and linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Author Austin Gayle picked Mason for his success both as a run blocker but especially as a pass protector against the team that led the NFL in sacks during the regular season: the 25-year old had a pass blocking efficiency of 98.9, according to PFF’s metrics.
Gayle had to say the following about Mason’s performance on the day:
[The] Pats’ Shaq Mason allowed just one pressure in his 46 pass-blocking snaps against Kansas City on Sunday, recording an impressive 98.9 pass-blocking efficiency rating in the process. He was also a road grader in the run game, finishing the weekend with one of the highest run-blocking grades among all offensive linemen.
Mason earned a Patriots-best 85.1 grade for his performance and played an integral role in keeping the Chiefs without a sack on the day. He also helped New England rush for 177 yards (3.8 yards per run) and four scores on 47 non-kneel down carries — oftentimes serving as a lead blocker after pulling around the formation. Sunday’s game was just the latest in a series of outstanding performances by Mason, who is living up to the five-year, $50 million contract extension he received in August.
Kyle Van Noy signed his last contract extension last September, and he is setting himself up for another one once his current deal expires after the 2019 season. Against the Chiefs, he was at his best and was therefore named the best linebacker of the weekend by PFF. The key statistic from his performance was his pass rushing productivity of 72.7 — something Gayle pointed out in his breakdown:
Though he rushed the passer just 11 times against Kansas City, Pats’ Kyle Van Noy recorded six total pressures on his limited pass-rush snaps, including a sack, a sack-fumble and four hurries. The former BYU edge defender turned New England off-ball linebacker has found his role with Bill Belichick and the Patriots, and he’s thriving in it.
The Chiefs had no answer for the 27-year old, who oftentimes blitzed from the second level and recorded sacks of 14 and 15 yards, respectively. While Kansas City was able to better slow down New England’s pass rush in the second half, Van Noy’s performance was still one of the key reasons why the Patriots are now preparing for the Super Bowl — and the AFC’s number one seed is headed into the offseason.