Sep 29, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell (19) is congratulated by center Bryan Stork (66) after LaFell scores during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 41-14. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Each week there is one player who stands out above the others on the field. In Monday night’s crushing 42-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs it seemed the New England Patriots had not a single player who stood out on the field and on the statsheet.
It took some work and going back to the game film to squeeze out some worthy candidates, but it was somehow possible. Let’s start with the honorable mentions first.
Honorable Mention: Punter Ryan Allen
January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots punter Ryan Allen against the Denver Broncos in the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Punter Ryan Allen was a workhorse on Monday night as he seemed to be running out on the field with regularity. Allen finished with six punts for a 48.8 average and a 45.0 net. He had just one touchback and twice pinned Kansas City inside the twenty yard line. With the Patriots’ first five drives ending in a punt, Ryan did his job and drove the ball and tried to help the defense by giving the Chiefs a long field to drive. In fact, the Chiefs starting point was the Kansas City 27, 14, 20, 11, and 28 on their first half drives and first drive of the second half following Patriots punts.
Honorable Mention#2: Special Teams Gunner Matthew Slater
Aug 15, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater (18) warms up before the preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Slater is strictly a special teams player at this point having filled in at safety and wide receiver in a pinch during his career in New England. A three time Pro Bowler and two time All-Pro as a special teams player, Slater showed on Monday Night Football why he has earned such respect. On the first two punts of the game he made spectacular individual plays beating a double-team outside to get downfield and hold Kansas City punt returner Frankie Hammond to just three return yards.
It is sad to say, but two of the best three performances by the Patriots was by the punt unit.
For week four, the game ball goes to … wide receiver Brandon LaFell.
Aug 22, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell (19) catches a pass against the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
Brandon LaFell was the only reliable target for the Patriots quarterbacks on Monday night as the Chiefs paid extra attention to wide receiver Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Daring the Patriots to go to someone else, LaFell was targeted ten times and hauled in six passes for 119 yards and four of them converting a first down. He later added a 44-yard catch-and-run breaking tackles to put the Patriots on the scoreboard.
For LaFell, an off-season acquisition from Carolina, it was an impressive display of his talents after a weak start to his New England career with no catches on six targets on opening day, no targets or receptions in week two, before hauling in a combined ten catches for 165 yards in the past two weeks combined.