USA TODAY Sports
Patrick Chung made two of the game's biggest plays on Sunday.
Devin McCourty: B+
With Alfonzo Dennard inactive and Aqib Talib out of the starting lineup, the Patriots had no choice but to move free safety Devin McCourty back to cornerback for Sunday’s game. McCourty had a mostly strong game back at cornerback, but did give up a few key catches.
McCourty was beaten early on a crossing route by Justin Blackmon for an 18-yard gain, and later was beaten by Blackmon on a curl route then subsequently missed a tackle, which turned that play into a 17-yard gain. McCourty also gave up a crucial 4th-and-10 pass on a comeback route to Toney Clemons in the game’s final minute which extend the Patriots’ struggle for survival.
Overall though, McCourty had a solid game in coverage, including keeping Blackmon in check for most of the game. He didn’t have any badly blown coverages, and was very consistent in coverage for a player now used to playing a different position.
Kyle Arrington: B+
With Dennard and Talib out of the starting lineup, the Patriots also had no choice to play Kyle Arrington as a starting cornerback on the outside, which has often been disastrous this season. He had a solid game, however, not blowing any coverages badly while he ended up being the team’s leading tackler of the day with seven tackles, all of which were solo.
Arrington did a good job coming up in run support to make tackles, which enabled him to lead the team in that statistic. Even on one play where Blackmon beating him across the field on a crossing route, he did a good job recovering to make a touchdown-saving tackle at the 1-yard line, which ended up having huge implications when the Patriots ended the Jaguars’ chance to score on 4th-and-goal with an interception.
Patriots fans had reason to fear the worst when Arrington came out as a starting cornerback, but he ended up having one of his best games of the season.
Marquice Cole: B+
After an atrocious performance on special teams against the San Francisco 49ers, cornerback Marquice Cole needed a strong game on Sunday to redeem himself. Cole ended up playing a lot on defense as the slot cornerback, and redeem himself he did, making a number of big plays in the game including an interception.
Cole was beat badly in the first quarter by Jordan Shipley, when Shipley outran Cole to the left sideline off a catch and gained 36 yards. Cole bounced back to be a playmaker the rest of the game, however. His six tackles included two tackles for loss off corner blitzes, and his sliding interception was a very nice play in coverage.
Aqib Talib: N/A
Aqib Talib did not start at cornerback, but he did receive some playing time in the first half. It was clear, however, that Talib should not have been on the field, as he was evidently favoring his hip on a play-to-play basis. The Patriots smartened up and did not play Talib in the second half, because he was not healthy enough to be playing in a game of relatively low importance just two weeks away from the playoffs.
Given that Talib was clearly injured and could not make much impact when he was on the field, he does not get a grade for his performance.
Patrick Chung: B-
For the most part, strong safety Patrick Chung’s play in coverage on Sunday was terrible. It is hard to give him a bad grade, however, because he also made the game’s two most important plays.
If Chung were to be graded simply off of his highlights, he would get an A+. Chung ended each of the Jaguars’ final two offensive drives with interceptions, and also made two other big hits in the game that broke up passes.
Chung, however, made just as many mistakes as he did big plays. He took some very poor angles in coverage, and fell down when he could have made a play early on Jordan Shipley’s 36-yard catch and run. He also had a costly 15-yard personal-foul penalty for targeting a defenseless receiver — a hit that knocked Cecil Shorts out of the game — after Devin McCourty had already made a great play on the ball, changing a pass breakup into an important gain on the Jaguars’ final drive of the game.
Chung came up big when the Patriots needed him to most, and really deserves credit for that, but his mistakes cannot be ignored.
Steve Gregory: B-
Safety Steve Gregory did not make any crucial mistakes in this game, but he didn’t make a big impact either. He came up with three tackles, but missed an opportunity to make a tackle in the middle of Montell Owens’ 53-yard gain, and did not do much to quell the Jaguars from completing passes in the intermediate passing game.
Gregory nearly came up with an interception on a bad third-quarter throw from Henne, but was able to keep the ball off the turf.
Tavon Wilson: B+
Rookie Tavon Wilson checked into the game at safety in nickel and dime packages, and played a very solid game when he was on the field. He did a good job of staying on his man in coverage, and made a couple very good tackles in run support as well.
Wilson did not give up any pass receptions of more than nine yards, and finished the game with four tackles.