Which New England Patriots Player Deserves the Game Ball for Week Eleven?


Nov 16, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Patriots running back Jonas Gray (35) celebrates a first half score against the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots stopped by Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday Night Football and held the Indianapolis Colts and their top-rated offense to 20 points pulling away late to the tune of a 42 to 20 win. While the defense was holding quarterback Andrew Luck to just 322 total yards, quarterback Tom Brady and the offense shook off a tough first half to top 501 yards.


New England was fantastic on third down as they converted 9 of 12 opportunities for a 75% rate. On defense, they held the high-powered Colts attack to a 38% rate going 5 of 13 and then just one of three on fourth down. The Patriots led just 14 to 10 at halftime as two Brady interceptions kept the Patriots from pulling away earlier in the game.


The Patriots had a number of stand-out performers on Sunday night. The offensive line was dynamic creating space in the running game and keeping Brady from being sacked. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer and right guard Ryan Wendell were downright nasty in the running game tossing defenders around like ragdolls. Backup tackle Cameron Fleming came on as tackle eligible for almost half the offensive plays and was a weapon in creating space for the running backs.


Nov 16, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) scores a touchdown against Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis (21) at Lucas Oil Stadium. New England defeated Indianapolis 42-20. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

In the passing game tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back Shane Vereen were productive in the passing game as they picked up some slack with Julian Edelman dinged-up and Brandon LaFell inexplicably on the bench with Brian Tyms inexplicably getting some of his early snaps. With second tight end Tim Wright playing just a handful of snaps and Danny Amendola adding only a couple of receptions, Vereen and Gronk both had some key grabs.


Oct 26, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) gestures to the crowd during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

On defense, it was a virtuoso performance by All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis shut down Reggie Wayne while in coverage of him. Revis was strong in the run stopping role on the outside as well helping set the tone on defense. Second-year cornerback Logan Ryan had a strong game as well in pass coverage. It was Kyle Arrington who had primary coverage on T.Y. Hilton early on in the game and matched-up well with the shifty and fast Colts star.


Finally, the duo of linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins had their best games since the Divisional Playoff game against the Colts last year. Hightower was disruptive in the passing game teaming with Rob Ninkovich to create pressure on Luck. Collins was strong against the run and in the passing game as he displayed his unique athleticism and potential. Newcomer Jonathan Casillas saw some time with the defense and acquitted himself well. Add in a quiet but stout performance by veteran defensive tackles Alan Branch and Vince Wilfork and it was a strong all-around game on defense.


Nov 16, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray (35) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New England Patritos at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

But the game ball went to one particular performer who very few saw as a big contributor in the game plan. Undrafted rookie free agent running back Jonas Gray stepped up with a huge performance. With 38 rushes for 199 yards and four touchdowns, Gray allowed the Patriots to control the tempo of the game and keep Luck on the sidelines. He led a unit that rushed for 244 yards (remember, Vereen had an 18 yard rush and Edelman had a huge 25-yard run on an end-around) and physically dominated the Colts. Gray was productive and consistent rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the first half and 99 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.


For this breakout performance in just his fourth career NFL game, Jonas Gray is awarded the MusketFire.com Game Ball for week eleven.