By: Ian Logue
Here’s a look back at some of the top performers from Thursday night’s 47-12 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, as well as some guys who probably would like to forget this one.
Dane Fletcher – Fletcher played really well Thursday night, with head coach Bill Belichick saying after the game that the former undrafted free agent was the guy making the calls for the defense. He finished with a combined 5 tackles, including a quarterback hit and two tackles for a loss.
Jermaine Cunningham showed some improvement Thursday night. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
Jermaine Cunningham – He’s had a quiet camp so far, with many reports questioning whether or not he’d be able to break out heading into his second year. Thursday night he made a sack on Jacksonville’s opening drive that forced the Jaguars to settle for a field goal. He was also seen collapsing the pocket and bringing pressure, and actually played pretty well.
Mark Anderson – Anderson spent time tonight coming in on 3rd down, and a great job bringing pressure in those situations. One notable play involved Anderson coming hard which opened up Landon Cohen to come in and make a sack. If Thursday night’s performance is a sign of things to come, it appears he’s going to be a solid contributor with this football team this season.
Nate Solder – The rookie got the start at left tackle Thursday night, and neither Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett saw any pressure coming in from their side of the field. He also did a great job opening up holes in the running game, and definitely looked impressive.
Taylor Price – Fans have been hoping to see him have a breakout season, and he’s off to a good start. He finished the night with 5 catches for 105 yards, including a touchdown grab where he showed tremendous body control to haul in a ball thrown high and slightly behind him, and managed to hold on and get both feet down. One concern may be the fact he took a vicious helmet-to-helmet shot at the end of the game, which hopefully won’t have a lasting effect. He did manage to stay in the game, but like any other head shot he’ll probably be feeling it a little more in the morning.
Stevan Ridley – Ridley had a tremendous debut for the Patriots, racking up 111 all purpose yards including 47 receiving yards and a touchdown along with 64 yards on the ground and two touchdowns there as well. He hit the holes hard and really ran pretty well, so it will be interesting to see how he progresses over the next few weeks.
Matthew Slater – He made a big 43-yard grab on a great adjustment on a slightly underthrown ball, which helped set up a field goal to put New England up 13-9 early in the second quarter. He also had an assist on a special teams tackle.
Buddy Farnham – Farnham had three receptions for 34-yards including a 25-yard grab, but he made a name for himself by stepping in on defense and coming away with an interception. Belichick showed some support for Farnham, saying after the game, “We’ve got a receiver leading the team in interceptions, so that should be a point of embarrassment for the defensive backs, but that’s alright – they deserve it.”
Brian Hoyer – He had said coming into this game that he was excited, and now that it’s over he should be feeling pretty good about himself. Hoyer got the start and finished the night 15-of-21 for 171 yards and a touchdown, with a quarterback rating of 111.4. However, more importantly he was completely in control and really did a great job of executing the offense and really didn’t make any mistakes.
Ryan Mallett – Mallett had a solid night of his own, finishing 12-of-19 for 164 yards and a touchdown, with a quarterback rating of 108.2. He was accurate and did a decent job – save for a delay of game penalty. But he did what he needed to do and managed to lead them to four straight second half scoring drives, and would have had a fifth had they not run out of time.
Richard Medlin – Ridley will get the majority of the press, but Medlin came in and played admirably running the ball. Medlin’s stats were close to Ridley’s carrying the football, as he finished with 14 carries for 54 yards and two touchdowns.
Darryl Richard – Finished with two sacks on the night and showed some pretty good promise. Also finished with one pass defensed.
Stephen Gostkowski – He hit two field goals from 46 and 43 yards, and the reason why it’s worth noting is that he hit both perfectly, and didn’t show any signs of any lingering issues following his season ending injury that saw him lost for the 2010 campaign.
Aaron Hernandez – He finished the night with 6 receptions for 68 yards, and it was good to see him out there after hearing the news of his offseason hip surgery. However he had two fumbles on two of the first three opening possessions, one of which he lost and it lead to Jacksonville’s first field goal. His second fumble cost him a touchdown after he got down to the one and looked like he was going to take it in. Luckily – since he recovered it – it allowed Ridley to get his first touchdown run of the night on the next play.
Patrick Chung – Chung actually played fairly well but he’ll likely be kicking himself after dropping an easy interception on an overthrown ball that landed right in his hands, but he couldn’t hold on. He also got lit up on Deji Karim’s 11-yard gain in the 2nd quarter, so needless to say he’ll probably be looking forward to getting a little redemption next week.
Darius Butler – He really struggled Thursday night. He got a ton of playing time, but he had a tough time in single coverage and really looked uncomfortable, which isn’t good for a third year player who’s already coming off a less than stellar season.
Danny Woodhead – Woodhead had a night he likely wants to forget. He followed up Hernandez’ first fumble with one of his own on the Patriots second offensive snap. New England fortunately recovered it, but he’s a pretty intense guy that doesn’t like to turn the ball over.
Overall we saw some really strong performances Thursday night, and it definitely gives us plenty to talk about as we wait to see how they follow this one up down in Tampa Bay next Thursday at 7:30pm ET.