New England – Three Performances of Note
Back to His Best
Maybe it was a favorable matchup, or maybe he used our recent piece on his struggles as motivation (unlikely), but either way, Wilfork showed up ready to play. The +3.8 grade he received was comfortably his highest of the season, and he tied his season-high with three pressures (all hurries). Two of those came against Joe Reitz, who had difficulty containing Wilfork in the running game as well. The fact that that grade includes a pair of missed tackles by the big man indicates Wilfork may be rediscovering his form just in time for the Patriots to climb to the top of the AFC.
Back in Action
Most will look at his 59-yard pick-six and think that the trade for Aqib Talib was just another example of the New England ripping someone off. But that interception was a result of a huge overthrow by Luck rather than an amazing play by Talib, and aside from that play Talib (-2.6) had a long day. Of the other 10 balls thrown his way, eight were completed for a massive 141 yards, or 42% of Luck’s passing yards. T. Y. Hilton in particular had success against Talib, tallying 68 yards and two touchdowns on three targets into his coverage. Talib was even flagged for Illegal Contact on one of those touchdowns, and the Patriots better hope he’s done shaking off the rust before they have to face a more potent offense.
An Heir Apparent?
Many have speculated that New England is fully ready to let Welker go after the season and replace him with the similarly-sized Julian Edelmen. Although Edelmen did record his best receiving day on the season (statistically, at least), it was hardly worth writing home about. Edelmen did force a couple of missed tackles and picked up 56 of his 58 yards after the catch while putting one pass on the ground. He really proved his value on special teams though, gaining 117 yards and a touchdown on his two punt returns. Add to that a forced fumble on special teams and a 47-yard run and it looks like the former seventh rounder is stating his case as an integral member of the team.
– Indianapolis kept a halfback in to block on 21 of Luck’s 55 drop-backs.
– Every Colt defender who was targeted more than once allowed at least 60% of those targets to be completed.
– Tom Brady was 18 of 20 on throws between the numbers, with 250 yards and two touchdowns for a QB rating of 155.8.
PFF Game Ball
He caught everything thrown his way for 137 yards and two touchdowns, but with a broken arm, this well could be Rob Gronkowski’s last game ball of the regular season.