The New England Patriots took care of business on Thanksgiving by absolutely pounding the New York Jets 49-19, largely due to a terrific 35-point third quarter. Some players who have been quiet this season showed up in a big way yesterday, so let’s get to them first.
1. Steve Gregory is one of the playmakers
If you told me Steve Gregory was going to force three turnovers just two games after his putrid performance against the Buffalo Bills, then I would have said, “Please make it happen”. Gregory made it happen, and he contributed a 12.3 EPA by picking off a pass, forcing a fumble, and recovering another fumble for an easy six points for the Patriots.
Gregory finished the game with six tackles and didn’t make any big mistakes back there, and he is yet another playmaker in this New England Patriots secondary. While with the San Diego Chargers, he mostly played around the line of scrimmage and, well, made plays. That’s the role he is best suited in, and he and Patrick Chung are both best off closer to the LOS. Thankfully, Devin McCourty and Tavon Wilson are good safeties deep.
2. Don’t look now, but Kyle Arrington is playing well
Ah yes, the corner who has become a punching bag on this site. I need to stop criticizing Kyle Arrington so much, and I’m going to come out and say that I’ve been too harsh on the guy. He played very well against the New York Jets and broke up two passes while also playing likely his best game in coverage. Arrington is finally climbing back and his confidence looks restored. This secondary is really starting to come around.
3. Vince Wilfork
All I have to do is say the name. After a poor start to the season in which a few publications wondered if the great DT was on a decline, Wilfork had a statement game against the Indianapolis Colts and followed it up with another solid showing. The Jets saw his strength first hand, and it was quite a remarkable play from Wilfork. Brandon Moore is a solid pass blocking right guard, but Wilfork shoved him back like he was Shonn Greene and made him fall back into Mark Sanchez. That set up the fumble that Steve Gregory recovered and the rest is another seven points on the scoreboard.
4. Brandon Spikes closing in on an All-Pro lock
There might not be a more vicious linebacker in the NFL, and Brandon Spikes was the piece missing in the Patriots front seven. His return to prominence this season after missing chunks of last year with injuries has been crucial to the success of this team, and he had 11 tackles in this game. Spikes has been one of the best middle linebackers in the NFL this season, and he deserves your Pro Bowl vote. Jerod Mayo is also in the discussion at OLB, and he also had a game-high 11 tackles.
5. Shane Vereen is a Jets-killer
Simply put, the Jets have no way of stopping Shane Vereen- he is a new, lethal weapon for the Pats to use against their rivals. Vereen’s huge 83-yard touchdown catch down the left sideline started the insane 21-point scoring outburst in under a minute, and he was able to consistently gain yardage on the ground against a baffled Jets defense that just can’t handle his explosiveness.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.