After the New England Patriots heart-breaking loss to the San Francisco 49ers 41-34, it is time to take a look at two players who had exceptional days and three players who need to watch the tape closely after this one.
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1. CB Kyle Arrington
Probably the most inconsistent player on the roster, it looked like Kyle Arrington finally had things figured out after playing four straight good games. He was astute in coverage and did an excellent job of recovering when he made a mistake. His tackling and playmaking abilities were also well above-average during that time span, but that all turned south on Sunday.
In my opinion, there wasn’t a player who played worse than Arrington on Sunday, and he made two awful mistakes that led to big plays. Arrington was one of the guys responsible for Dashon Goldson’s 31-yard fake punt run, but the most egregious mistake that the several that he had in coverage came on the game-winning play. Michael Crabtree caught a short pass from Colin Kaepernick, and Arrington completely botched the tackle. Instead of it being a short gain for Crabtree, the 49ers received the touchdown they needed to net the victory.
2. WR Brandon Lloyd
Now for the good. Brandon Lloyd has had two straight amazing games, and I hope nobody continues to complain about how he is a “disappointment” or junk like that. Lloyd showed that he is still a great wide receiver, he just needs the targets to show it. With 190 receiving yards on ten receptions, Lloyd dominated a tough 49ers secondary and stretched the field as well as any receiver this week. In fact, I think he was at least one of the best three players of the week overall in the NFL.
3. RB Stevan Ridley
Even though his fumble was a result of a great defensive hit, Stevan Ridley still had an awful game whether or not you count the fumble against him. He averaged a meager 2.6 yards per carry on nine carries, and he was clearly the worst performer on offense for the Patriots in this game.
4. RB Danny Woodhead
It’s a good thing Woodhead was the complete opposite, and he helped get the comeback going by starting off the touchdown spree with a six-yard run. He finished the day with over five yards per carry, two rushing touchdowns, and he also added five receptions for good measure. Woodhead continues to perform at his best in crunch time, and the Pats will likely give him the ball more down the stretch. He is going to be an interesting weapon for opposing defenses to cope with in the playoffs.
5. DE Chandler Jones
Chandler Jones just hasn’t looked the same since injuring his ankle against the Indianapolis Colts, and he is sackless since the bye week. In that time period, the only statistics Jones has been able to put forward are five tackles. His work in run defense has still been good, but it looks like Jones is hitting the rookie wall. Against San Francisco, not even his run defense was in full effect as he struggled to make a positive impact on the game. The Patriots need him to get healthy and effective as the season wears on, because he is a big key to this defense. Without enough pressure on the opposing quarterback, this secondary is going to be tested and can still break down and give up a big play.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.