Patriots vs. Rams: New England's Biggest Winners & Losers from Week 8
Tom Brady and the offense exploded in balanced fashion while the highly criticized defense flashed their aggressive side and showed encouraging signs of improvement.
Here's a look at some of the game's biggest winners and losers, with an obvious tilt toward the "winners" section:
Tom Brady —Brady had his best performance in 2012, torching St. Louis' secondary while throwing for 304 yards and four touchdown passes. Brady had a killer's instinct today —something we haven't been seeing on a regular basis.
Rob Gronkowski—The tight end returned to his 2011 form as he embarrassed St. Louis' linebackers and safeties on his way to eight receptions, 146 yards and two touchdowns. Dealing with a hip injury for most of this season, Gronk seems to be nearing a full recovery after his dominating performance today.
Stevan Ridley and the running backs—The running game looked sharp today, led by the impressive running of second-year man Stevan Ridley, who collected 127 yards on just 15 carries—over eight yards per carry. Shane Vereen had a few big runs as well, while Danny Woodhead played a huge role in the passing game (five receptions, 56 yards).
Who was the most impressive in the Pats win over the Rams?
Brandon Lloyd—After a shaky performance against the Jets last week, Brandon Lloyd bounced back nicely in London this afternoon. While he didn't rack up the yards, he did make two pretty touchdown grabs.
Chandler Jones—The rookie defensive end had a big one-handed sack on third down. At the halfway point of the 2012 season, Jones looks like a clear favorite for the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award with six sacks and three forced fumbles.
Marquice Cole—With the recent news that second-year cornerback Ras-I Dowling has been placed on season-ending injured reserve (per Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston), someone had to step up in his absence (even though Dowling's role has been minimal this season). It looks like Marquice Cole might be that guy. Mostly playing in the slot today in nickel packages, Cole looked good in coverage and broke up a pair of passes. He also made quite a tackle in kickoff coverage, pinning St. Louis' offense well short of the 20-yard line.
Kyle Arrington—The starting cornerback left the game early in the first quarter with a head injury. The Patriots would be awfully thin at cornerback should they lose Arrington for an extended period of time.
Tavon Wilson—Though he somewhat redeemed himself with an impressive interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter, Wilson was responsible for Chris Givens' 50-yard touchdown reception on the Rams' first offensive possession—St. Louis' biggest play of the day.
Daniel Fells—Fells was a beast run-blocking today. There is no doubt about that. However, he finds himself in the "losers" section today for being called for both a false start and an offensive pass-interference penalty.
Who did I miss? Sound off in the comments section!
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