The New England Patriots 45-7 drubbing of the St. Louis Rams yesterday was such a dominating performance that it is difficult to dwindle down the list of stars to just five, but it has to be done. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were two obvious picks, and here are the other three players who made the cut.
1. QB Tom Brady
Tom Brady was at his best yesterday, and ESPN’s TQBR gave him a 98.4 on a scale of 100. That’s insane. He averaged 8.7 yards per attempt and tossed four touchdowns without a pick. He went 8-10 when throwing short and medium passes in the middle of the field, and he finished with a 131.1 QB Rating and 304 passing yards.
The most insane stat of all the insane stats is that he added 24.8 points to the team according to EPA. By comparison, Carson Palmer has added 24.5 points to the Oakland Raiders in seven games this season. Yeah, Brady is a monster.
2. TE Rob Gronkowski
Gronk gave the underwhelming St. Louis Rams safeties and linebackers a nightmare game, as he caught eight passes for 146 yards and was able to get two awesome touchdown celebrations off. My favorite is the one that paid tribute to the Buckingham Palace guards. The Gronk-Brady connection is back to its best, and the superstar TE overwhelmed the Rams when working the middle of the field. He caught four of five passes for 80 yards and a touchdown in that region. He averaged 11.2 yards per attempt in this game and a 11.8 EPA. Only nine tight ends have had a higher EPA…this season.
3. RB Stevan Ridley
127 rushing yards almost always means that you had a great day at the running back position, but to get that type of yardage on just 15 carries is absolutely insane. Ridley tore up the Rams defense, averaging 8.5 yards per carry in the process. He sprung some big runs when he got to the outside, including runs of 41 and 20 yards.
4. RT Sebastian Vollmer
The entire New England Patriots offensive line deserves some huge recognition here, but I want to single out Vollmer in particular. He helped keep Tom Brady’s pocket perfect, and the dynamic defensive end duo of Robert Quinn and Chris Long was held to no sacks for the first season thanks to great blocking from Vollmer and Nate Solder. Minimal pressure was recorded by the usually tough Rams D-Line.
When Ridley ran it towards the right side, he had five carries for 84 yards. Yeah, that’s 16.8 yards per pop. Shane Vereen’s big 14-yard run also came when running it towards the right side. Now that’s a dominant performance.
5. LG Donald Thomas
The Patriots might just have the best backup guard in the NFL. Thomas can be a legitimate starter, and this is the third solid game he’s put in. Actually, Thomas was terrific Sunday and played the best game of his career. He shut the Rams interior down in pass blocking- the whole interior did, as a matter of fact- and both Ridley and Vereen averaged exactly six yards per rush when running it in his area (five carries for 30 yards). I’m leaving out Danny Woodhead’s two carries for three yards.
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