It’s time to take at five players who were instrumental in the New England Patriots 49-19 victory against the New York Jets, and it’s impossible to whittle it down to just five players.
1. Tom Brady
Brady had another one of those games where he looked unstoppable, because he was brutally efficient in a much-hyped Thanksgiving Day game that ended up as lopsided as they come. He averaged 11.5 yards per attempt, did not throw a pick, and he finished with a QB Rating that was just under 140. There were some throws that Brady clearly messed up on, but I don’t even think Brandon Lloyd will hold that over him too much. My favorite play of the game from Brady was the 56-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman, which showed a great, budding connection between the two of the. Now if only he could connect with Lloyd like that.
2. Shane Vereen
It seems like he always brings his A-game against the New York Jets, and the Jets defense looks far too slow when Vereen has the ball. He’s almost as fast as Danny Woodhead, and that 83-yard touchdown catch left me in shock. We’re going to be seeing more screen passes to Vereen in the future, and the thought of facing both Woodhead and Vereen has to be an extremely scary proposition for opponents. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better pass-catching tandem in the backfield. Only Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles can come close to what these two have been doing recently.
3. Aqib Talib
The respect that Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez evidently have for Talib is enormous, because they rarely ever challenged him in this game. On one of the few plays they did, he lucked out on a dropped touchdown catch. He shook off some rust from last game, but he will get burned. However, the big plays he makes will outnumber the times he gets beat on long passes.
4. Marcus Cannon
Sebastian Vollmer was a surprise inactive for this game, and that could have spelled trouble for Tom Brady. But the Jets were unable to get to him (except once on a play that was ruled intentional grounding), and that’s largely because Cannon stepped up in a big way. He looked dreadful in the preseason and was viewed as the weakest player on the two-deep at each position on the line, but Cannon was anything but weak on Thursday. He continues to impress as a run blocker, and he played well as a pass blocker. To me, that was the most outstanding part of his play. He really rose to the occasion, and it’s impossible not to throw some recognition his way.
5. Vince Wilfork
The monster is back. Vince Wilfork has quelled the concerns about his supposed decline by putting together a third consecutive strong performance, and this may have been his best yet. Wilfork did an excellent job commanding double teams and played well against a tough duo of Nick Mangold and Brandon Moore. Of course, the best part was when he shoved Moore right into Mark Sanchez to force that embarrassing fumble that turned into a touchdown.
Wilfork finished the game with three tackles and has made some big plays on run defense this season- maybe more so than any DT. Even though he isn’t thought of as a playmaking DT, he has been just that ever since the bye week.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.