By: Ian Logue
Overall on Sunday the Patriots played well, with far more going right then wrong during New England’s 23-20 win over San Diego. While it wasn’t their best performance, even Tom Brady admitted that it’s always good to get a win when things aren’t perfect.
“It’s good to win when you don’t play great,” said Brady. “You’ve got to win these games when you have the opportunity.”
Here’s a look at some of the highlights, and lowlights from Sunday’s game.
Patrick Chung – Caused a fumble on the first play from scrimmage that unfortunatley ended up being recovered by San Diego. Chung later got knocked out of the game with a knee injury and now his status is uncertain.
Devin McCourty – Made a great read on the second play from scrimmage, and also made a great read on the first play of San Diego’s second drive, coming up and making a big tackle. He did catch a break on San Diego’s field goal, as Buster Davis got behind him, but caught it out of bounds in the back of the endzone. McCourty also made a great read when the Chargers went long to Patrick Crayton, reading the ball perfectly and making a terrific leaping interception. He did have one bad moment after he was at fault for being on the field during a mix-up on a substitution, causing the Patriots to be called for a “12 men on the field” penalty.
James Sanders – Made a strong return Sunday, blitzing on the opening drive and causing an incompletion on 3rd down. He also alertly picked up the ball after Richard Goodman left the ball on the turf following a 25-yard reception. Unfortunately the Patriots don’t capitalize on the turnover.
Jerod Mayo – Came up to make a play on Ryan Mathews and kept batting his hands – which prevented a stiffarm and forced Mathews out of bounds. Mayo lead the team in tackles Sunday, finishing with 11 combined tackles and also recovered a fumble.
Brandon Meriweather – Meriweather made a big hit Sunday, and this one was legal. He made a perfect hit right to the body on Chargers receiver Patrick Crayton, although Crayton held on. He did a salute to the crowd right after the play. Meriweather did appear to injure his shoulder late in the game while making a tackle, but stayed in the game.
Dane Fletcher – Great job recovering the kick on San Diego’s first onside kick attempt early in the game – although San Diego would succeed when they tried it again later in the fourth quarter. Fletcher also later forced a fumble which helped set up the Patriots first touchdown.
Rob Gronkowski – Gronkowski had a touchdown, and finished with two receptions for 10-yards along with his scoring grab.
Rob Ninkovich – Made a great heads up play to pick up the ball after Jacob Hester gave up on what he thought was an incompletion, returning it 63-yards all the way down to the San Diego 8-yard line. The play was ruled a lateral, and New England ended up with the football.
Sergio Brown – Came in after Patrick Chung went down and played well, making a tackle which lead to a 3rd and long, with Devin McCourty later making his first career interception.
Julian Edelman – Edelman did a good job shaking off a tackle, and returning the punt 34-yards with 1:59 left in the first half.
Stephen Neal – Neal got into it with Antonio Garay, andmuch like Jermaine Cunningham did last week, he got Garay to lose his cool and throw him to the ground. Chargers were penalized and New England got the first down.
Danny Woodhead – Woodhead got drilled following a reception, but held on and picked four yards after the initial impact early in the game. Also made a great play on a screen where he high stepped his way out of a tackle to get the Patriots down to the Chargers 6-yard line – 16-yard gain. Finished with 8 carries for 24-yards.
Brandon Deaderick – Made a key sack on a 2nd-and-7, which set up a 3rd-and-13 and left the Chargers forced to attempt a field goal after a big hit by Kyle Arrington
Aaron Hernandez – Hernandez finished with 5 catches for 54 yards, and did a great job bouncing back from his performance last week where he had a couple of drops.
Mike Wright – Wright had a good performance on Sunday, where he combined for two tackles, including one where he busted through and sacked Philip Rivers late during Sunday’s game.
Jake Ingram – Didn’t have a great day snapping the ball, forcing punter Zoltan Mesko to have to scoop a couple off the turf, and also had a holding penalty in the first quarter.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Green-Ellis rushed for a touchdown early in the 3rd quarter which put New England up 20-3, but finished with 11 carries for 24 yards (2.2 avg). He also failed to pick up a blitz after carrying his part of the fake out on a playaction, and it lead to Brady being sacked. Later was also stopped on what could have been a game winning first down, as he cut his run outside on a 4th down run late in the 4th quarter. Fortunately for Green-Ellis the Chargers ended up missing the game-tying kick.
Matt Light – Had a tough afternoon. He got called for illegal hands to the face against linebacker Antwan Barnes, after Barnes pushed him into Brady and forced an incompletion, leading to a field goal attempt. He also gave up a blitz, which forced a hurried throw by Brady on New England’s opening drive – forcing a punt. Light also let Quentin Jammer get around the edge and get a hand on Brady on the next third down, forcing another punt. He also later allowed a sack by Barnes.
Sebastian Vollmer – Called for a holding penalty which took them from a 2nd-and-3 to a 2nd and 14. Patriots would later go for it on 4th down and convert.
Gary Guyton – got beat by Antonio Gates for the touchdown, his first catch of the day. Later had Sprolls squared up for a 1-yard gain, and let him get away for a 9-yard gain following the onside kick.
NOTES: The Patriots won the turnover battle on Sunday, as the Chargers had four turnovers in the first half…Patrick Chung left Sunday’s game with a knee injury. His status for next week’s game to this point is unknown….On the drive where Brady was sacked back-to-back before their first field goal, their “drive” went for 4 plays, minus-14 yards, lasting just 1:54…New England lost Matthew Slater with an “ankle injury”Sunday. Like Chung, his status going forward is unknown….Patriots were 0-for-6 on third down in the first half, and only ended up finishing 3-of-12…. Brady’s touchdown pass Sunday was his 236th career TD pass, tying George Blanda for 18th all-time in NFL history. His next one will tie Jim Kelly (237)….Ryan Wendell in the game at left guard for Dan Connolly to open the second half….The Patriots finally converted their first 3rd down early in the second quarter on an 18-yard completion to Aaron Hernandez.