It’s time to take a look at three players on the New England Patriots who helped the team defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-16, as well as two players who didn’t fare out so well in the narrow victory.
1. WR Wes Welker
Easily the best pass-catcher on the New England Patriots in this one, Wes Welker continues to have a great season with a total of 110 receptions. Welker caught his fifth touchdown pass of the season, and it was the crucial fourth quarter TD that gave the Pats a 23-13 lead. The star slot receiver hauled in ten passes on 11 targets in an incredibly efficient day. He had 88 receiving yards in total for an average of 8.8 yards per reception, and those numbers help tell the story about Tom Brady’s day.
Brady’s numbers were down on Sunday, and that’s largely due to the pass rush. The offensive line could not contain Jeremy Mincey and Jason Babin, as the Jaguars finished with nine hits on Brady and managed to put him down for a sack on three occasions. Whenever Brady is under pressure, he immediately looks for Welker on short passes. We saw this in the 23-16 victory over the Miami Dolphins a couple of weeks ago, and the Jags game was eerily similar both in score and in the Brady-Welker connection.
2. TE Aaron Hernandez
The Jacksonville Jaguars do a solid job of stopping opposing tight ends, but the way in which they shut down Aaron Hernandez was just insane. Hernandez isn’t your normal tight end, and he should have done a much better job against the Jaguars. He did not help out Brady at all, and he finished the day with just one reception. He could have had two catches, but one of them was negated due to an illegal motion penalty by Hernandez himself. That pretty much sums up his day; disappointing all-around. I doubt we’ll see him play this poorly in a long time, because he hasn’t played this poorly in a long time. Yeah, I know that sounded confusing.
Michael Hoomanawanui was the best TE on the field for the Pats. Incredible blocking, and he also provided two big catches for the offense.
3. S Patrick Chung
Even though we can’t give him too much credit, interceptions are still interceptions. Patrick Chung took advantage of some great pass rushing from Chandler Jones and snapped up two picks to help the cause. The question is, has he played himself into more playing time?
4. DT Vince Wilfork
I loved the leadership he showed after getting back at offensive lineman Steve Vallos for a dirty cheapshot on defensive end Trevor Scott, but Vince Wilfork had a very quiet game against the Jaguars interior. He should have eaten those guys up, but Vallos and guard Uche Nwaneri (left the game with concussion).
He didn’t play poorly and made a decent impact in run defense, but he should have done better and was a non-factor as a pass rusher. I know I’m spoiled, but I expect Wilfork to be better than mediocre against the competition he was facing on Sunday.
5. RB Danny Woodhead
I already gave Stevan Ridley the game ball for his solid 84-yard rushing performance against the Jaguars, so I’m going to give some praise to Danny Woodhead in this space. He is the most clutch running back in the NFL, and he showed it with a crucial 14-yard touchdown reception just before the half to tie the game up 13-13 and give the Patriots some good momentum. He continues to find the end zone at a high rate and make a solid impact as a pass-catcher. He also added a 24-yard reception in addition to the touchdown, and Tom Brady gave him some more praise after the game.
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