New England Patriots Week 14 Grades


Naturally, the greats are terrific after the New England Patriots absolutely blew the Houston Texans out of the water 42-14 on the biggest stage of the week. It was the game of the season in Foxborough between the best two teams in the AFC, and the Patriots proved Bill Parcells wrong once again. You aren’t what your record says you are, and the Patriots are clearly the better team than the Texans even if the Texans have one more win.

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New England Patriots Pass Offense A+

The New England Patriots coped well without Julian Edelman, and I can only imagine how deadly the passing attack will be once Rob Gronkowski gets back. Tom Brady had another MVP performance, and Aaron Hernandez worked the short range game in the Welker- role in what was an off game for Welker (several drops).

Brandon Lloyd was the star performer of the receiver corps, and Troy Brown’s words must have really pumped up the star wideout. He had his best game of the season with seven catches for 89 yards and a receiving touchdown and fumble recovery touchdown. Donte’ Stallworth is going to be on the Patriots for the long haul, as he his explosiveness and athleticism bring a new edge to the Patriots passing attack. That 63-yard TD showed it.

Whenever your quarterback has a QB Rating of 125.4, then nothing short of an A+ is deserved. The Patriots passing attack overwhelmed the Houston Texans, and Tom Brady was at the center of it.

Patriots Run Offense B

This is the only “low” grade I’m going to be giving the Patriots for this game, and it doesn’t matter much anyway. Besides, a “B” is a good  grade and is a fair one for the Patriots running game against a difficult matchup. Stevan Ridley managed to run in another score and averaged four yards per carry on the nose. Shane Vereen looked even better on a per carry basis with 40 yards on eight carries, and Brandon Bolden chipped in 11 rushing yards on a pair of touches.

Tom Brady’s first down run on third-and-five stole the show, and the chant he received after pumping up the crowd following the play was terrific. Definitely the MVP.

Pats Pass Defense A+

You’d be crazy to give the New England Patriots pass defense anything less than a solid “A” for this game, and they were flawless. The Pats coped well with an injury to Aqib Talib in the second quarter, as Alfonzo Dennard picked up where Talib left off in severely mitigating Texans star wide receiver Andre Johnson’s impact on the game. Dennard was later bounced out of the game with a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter, and Kyle Arrington also departed with an injury in the final quarter of regulation.

Linebacker Brandon Spikes was the only player who struggled in coverage at all, because everyone else was terrific. Kyle Arrington has taken a complete 180 this season and showed why he has been one of the best nickel corners in the NFL over the past three games with another huge performance last night. Arrington’s recovery ability is top notch, and he was making plays throughout the game.

Devin McCourty’s pick off of Matt Schaub in the end zone can simply be described as a game-changer, and he has easily been one of the top five safeties in the NFL this season.

The pass rush was also impressive, as Jerod Mayo continues to excel on delay blitzes with two more quarterback hits to add to his total this season. Even Dont’a Hightower got into the act more often with two QB hits, and the rookie from Alabama has also been a difference-maker as a pass rusher over the past couple of weeks. Rob Ninkovich was able to show some disruptive play in a tough matchup against Duane Brown, but it was Vince Wilfork who truly stole the show. He tipped his way, bulled his way, and demolished his way into a stunning performance. J.J. Watt was great, but Wilfork was truly the best DL on the day.

Run Defense A+

Hey, wasn’t Arian Foster supposed to average more than 3.1 yards per carry in this game? Ben Tate was excellent with eight carries for 56 yards, but Foster got nothing going on the ground and the Pats also shut out Justin Forsett on his three carries for good measure. Foster is averaging under four yards per carry on the season, but this was one of just two games in which he was almost fully negated. The other? The Texans last loss in Week 6 in which they were shut down by the Green Bay Packers.

Arian Foster averages 2.3 yards per carry in losses and exactly four YPC in wins. Chew on those numbers.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.