Each week there is one player who stands out above the others on the field. In Sunday’s win over the NFC North’s Chicago Bears, the New England Patriots had multiple players who stood out on the field and on the statsheet.
Cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner shut down the Bears’ dynamic duo of wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall holding them to four receptions combined for minimal impact before leaving the game in the fourth quarter to let the backups take over.
Oct 26, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running backJonas Gray
(35) carries the ball between Chicago Bears defensive endLamarr Houston
(99) and middle linebackerD.J. Williams
(58) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Rookie running back Jonas Gray ground out 86 yards on just 17 carries for a 5.1 yards per carry average (all stats from NFL.com) running hard with a low center of gravity and strong and punishing style.
Tight end Tim Wright had his third touchdown in four games and caught all seven of his targets for sixty-one yards. Wright was on the field for just 22 plays but made the most of his playing time.
But none of these three win the game ball for the New England Patriots this week. In fact, they are not even the finalists.
Honorable Mention: wide receiver Brandon LaFell
Oct 26, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell (19) catches the ball to score a touchdown as Chicago Bears defensive backAl Louis-Jean
(39) defends during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
LaFell set the tone right from the first snap on offense as he went 19 yards on first down and then on the second drive on first down went for 12 more yards. At halftime he had seven receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown. He finished with a career high 11 receptions for 124 yards and abused whoever the Bears covered him with, primarily youngster Al Louis-Jean.
Honorable Mention #2: tight end Rob Gronkowski
Oct 26, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Despite ending the day early due to “dehydration”, the premier tight end in the NFL (sorry Julius Thomas and Jimmy Graham) showed why he is one of the most dangerous weapons in the league. Showing he is finally healthy and up to speed after all his back, forearm and knee injuries the past two seasons, Gronkowski went off for nine receptions for 149 yards and three touchdowns. No matter who tried, no safety, cornerback or linebacker could cover him: Gronk was in full beast-mode on Sunday.
For week eight, the game ball goes to … quarterback Tom Brady.
Oct 26, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) screams prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws the ball to tight end Timothy Wright (81) during the second half against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Brady had an amazing game completing 30 of 35 passes for 354 yards and five touchdowns without a turnover. His 148.4 quarterback rating was just part of the story as he completed all 27 passes thrown to top targets Gronkowski, Wright, and LaFell.
Brady was actually better than his numbers as every pass he threw was on target and catchable. With two drops by the usually sure-handed Julian Edelman and one by Shane Vereen (and two other catchable passes that could have gone either way) Brady was as efficient and accurate as ever seen in a New England Patriots jersey. Credit the offensive line which was amazing in pass protection.
Per ProFootballFocus.com (subscription required) Brady made the Bears pay when they brought the blitz. Brady was five of six for 53 yards and two touchdowns when the Bears brought extra rushers. Throwing short, throwing deep, under pressure, against extra defenders dropped in coverage he beat them all.
For this, Tom Brady is awarded the MusketFire.com Game Ball for week eight.