ReFo: Patriots @ Chargers, Week 14
The New England Patriots proved last night just what a difficult team they are to beat coming off of a loss. Though their offense didn’t fire on all cylinders their defense held the Chargers’ offense to only seven points allowing a 10-point fourth quarter to turn the tide in the Patriots’ favor.
The victory saw the Patriots hold onto first place in the AFC with three weeks to go while the Chargers, suffering the first defeat since their bye week, now go into a tough final three games knowing that they may not be able to afford another slip if they want to return to the postseason.
New England Patriots – Performances of Note
Jamie Collins, ILB: +3.6
Breakdown: In the absence of Dont’a Hightower, Collins led by example at inside linebacker earning positive grades in every facet while racking up seven defensive stops. Collins took advantage of Chris Watt at center to record the first multi-sack game of his career, taking advantage of a miscue early in the first quarter then beating him to his left for a sack late in the second half.
Signature Stat: Entering the Week 9 encounter with the Broncos Collins’ overall grade sat at -2.7, since then he has earned a +17.0 overall grade in five games (only Chris Borland has a higher grade among inside linebackers in that span).
Julian Edelman, WR: +1.5
Breakdown: An early drop was a rare negative play in a night where Edelman got the better of one of the league’s better corners for much of the game, both in terms of production and impact plays. His 69-yard score certainly boosted his average, but that was only one of five catches for Edelman against Brandon Flowers as he snagged two further first downs.
Signature Play: Beat not only Flowers but also Marcus Gilchrist for the game-clinching touchdown at 8:41 in the fourth, taking advantage of a downfield block by Brandon LaFell to set up the Patriots’ two-score lead.
Akeem Ayers, OLB: +3.1
Breakdown: Comfortably the best game of Ayers’ short career as a Patriot, adding an interception to his six pressures (one hit, five hurries) as a pass rusher, tied for his most in six games with New England. More a nuisance than a dominant presence as a pass rusher, Ayers rarely broke into the pocket but impressed with his ability to outmuscle King Dunlap late in plays with four of his six pressures coming via bullrush or to the inside of Dunlap and Chad Rinehart.
Signature Stat: Since his arrival in New England Ayers has notched 25 pressures on 192 pass rushes, only five 3-4 outside linebackers have more since Week 8.
San Diego Chargers – Performances of Note
Malcom Floyd, WR: +1.5
Breakdown: With Darrelle Revis completely taking Keenan Allen out of the game it was left to Floyd to fill the void and while he came up with some big plays down the field he couldn’t replicate the volume of Allen’s contribution to the offense. A couple of excellent catches down the field against Browner were good but ultimately not good enough as Floyd struggled to match his own usual production, let alone make up for Allen’s quiet night on Revis Island.
Signature Play: Showed his ability on vertical routes with his touchdown at Q2 13:29, beating Browner on a double move and controlling the ball as he laid out for the catch to put the Chargers in front.
Melvin Ingram, OLB: +1.8
Breakdown: Playing well since his return to the starting lineup, this night could have been even better for Ingram but he struggled to replicate his strong first half showing after the break. His four stops tie a career high set in Week 2 and it was a run defender that he had most of his joy taking over blocks against whoever came to get him, setting plays up for himself and others.
Signature Play: Helped hold the Patriots to three points on their long opening drive, taking Nate Solder back and shedding inside to take down Tom Brady for his second sack of the season.
Eric Weddle, S: +1.6
Breakdown: The Chargers shared the coverage duties on Rob Gronkowski around and aside from the predictable result of trying to cover him with Dwight Freeney dropping from a three-point stance, they held their own for the most part. Weddle was credited with two targets against him, preventing a third-down completion with good positioning while having a further two positive plays taken away by a penalty and a batted pass as the Chargers’ defensive leader continued his fine season.
Signature Stat: Weddle earned a positive grade for the sixth time in the last seven games, sitting at +18.5 overall after 13 games seems sure to extend his run of six straight seasons earning at least a +1o.0 overall.
PFF Game Ball
Becoming only the second player to take Brandon Flowers for more than 100 yards all season Julian Edelman proved to be the difference in an otherwise tight defensive battle.
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