Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots: Full Roster Grades for New England
Regardless of the sport, Boston fans don't get to relax.
After the New England Patriots lost to the New York Jets last week on an odd penalty and the Red Sox lost Game 3 in the World Series on a very questionable call, the Patriots were the benefactors of an illegal-batting flag that helped propel them to victory.
After the 27-17 win, the Patriots now have at least one victory over each of their AFC East foes.
Here are the grades for all the Patriots players.
Tom Brady: C
Speculation abounded on the game broadcast whether Tom Brady's hand was bothering him. Brady cleared that up—as much as you can believe a Patriot talking about injuries—talking with reporters after the game.
"My hand is perfect." No injury? "Absolutely not." Tom Brady.— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) October 27, 2013
If there was an injury, it magically healed itself for the second half. After a first half punctuated by poor throws and statuesque pocket-presence, Brady came alive after halftime.
Brady connected on a pretty "Sluggo" route to Aaron Dobson for a 14-yard touchdown pass halfway through the third quarter, the first of 24 unanswered points by the Patriots.
When the Patriots have their run game working—as it was in the second half—Brady is so much more effective. Look for Stevan Ridley to get a healthy amount of work next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers to keep their defense honest.
Mysteriously, Ridley didn't see the field until the second quarter. He was easily the best running back on the field, averaging 5.6 yards per carry behind decisive cuts and a nasty disposition.
LeGarrette Blount: B-
Blount, like Brady, had two very different halves. He was indecisive and slow in the first half, while he ran much harder and cut much more quickly in the second. I'm not always sure how it works, but his results have been decent on kickoff returns as well.
Brandon Bolden: B-
Bolden was decent in spot duty, picking up a couple of important first downs as well as the Patriots second touchdown on the day. He was able to punch it in from two yards out just two minutes after Dobson scored the first touchdown.
James Develin: C
Develin continues to be used as a blocking fullback, although he hasn't stood out much as a lead blocker. His pass protection was adequate in the second half, buying Brady a couple extra fractions of a second.
Edelman was a consistent performer in the return game and was able to bring in a pair of receptions for seven yards. He seemed to have some space on a quick screen play, but a poorly thrown ball by Brady limited what he could do after the catch.
Aaron Dobson: A-
Dobson had one of his best games as a Patriot, racking up four cathces for 60 yards and a touchdown on just five targets. He seems to have passed fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins on the depth chart.
Kenbrell Thompkins: C-
Thompkins was held without a reception for the first time in his career. Tom Brady only looked his way once. Despite not being a big part of the passing game, Thompkins was a good blocker for the Patriots running backs.
Danny Amendola: C
Despite earning six targets, Amendola was only able to secure three receptions for 15 yards. Amendola isn't able to uncover at will at this point, perhaps meaning that his groin is still bothering him.
Austin Collie: C-
Collie did not earn a target in the passing game, although he was on the field in some multiple receiver sets.
Gronkowski only caught two balls for 27 yards—on five targets—but had a much bigger impact. Gronkowski kept the safeties occupied in the middle of the field even when he wasn't the primary option.
He was excellent blocking for Ridley and Blount, helping out Cannon with his duties at right tackle.
Michael Hoomanawanu and Matthew Mulligan: C
With Gronkowski back, Hoomanawanui and Mulligan remain in his shadow in the passing game. For the second game in the row, neither have earned a look from Tom Brady.
Sebastian Vollmer: I
The big story on the offensive line coming out of this game is Vollmer's apparent leg injury. You could hear his screams on the broadcast, and he later left the game on a cart with his leg in an aircast. It is pure speculation, but I wouldn't expect Vollmer to return this season.
Marcus Cannon: B-
Nate Solder: C+
Logan Mankins: D+
Ryan Wendell: B-
Dan Connolly: B-
Will Svitek: C
The Patriots line seemed to be galvanized by Vollmer's injury, stepping up their game in the third and fourth quarters. Marcus Cannon and Will Svitek filled in admirably and will have to play equally as well until Vollmer can return.
Logan Mankins gave up a couple of sacks to Jared Odrick and continued his uneven play this season. Other than a brutal holding penalty that negated an incredible catch by Rob Gronkowski, Nate Solder had a pretty good day.
Chandler Jones: B-
Jones clinched the game with a blocked field goal, but it was a struggle early on. Bryant McKinnie dominated Jones early, with the Patriots struggling to hold the edge. Jones improved in the second half, but it was probably his toughest test of the season.
Chris Jones: B
Jones started to make up for his costly penalty against the Jets with another solid defensive performance. He was in on a couple of sacks—earning credit for one—and has improved in the run game as well.
Joe Vellano: B-
Vellano added a pass deflection to his four tackles on the day. Despite being undersized, nobody seems to outwork Vellano inside.
Rob Ninkovich: A-
Marcus Forston: C
Forston earned a few snaps in short-yardage situations but didn't have the same impact he was able to last week against New York.
Andre Carter: C
Carter saw the majority of Michael Buchanan's snaps on Sunday but failed to make much of an impact in his first game back with the Patriots.
Dont'a Hightower: A-
Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia did a better job of masking Hightower's deficiencies—he didn't play in coverage nearly as much—and that resulted in a fantastic performance from Jerod Mayo's replacement. He totaled 10 tackles, including a key sack that led to a missed field goal.
Brandon Spikes: B-
Spikes was stoned on his blitz attempts but was effective cleaning up behind the defensive line. Spikes notched nine tackles on the day.
Jamie Collins: C-
Collins seemed to lose contain on a couple of occasions and looked out of place for the first time this season. I'd like to see Collins going after the quarterback in the Patriots "Speed" package.
Dane Fletcher: B
Fletcher saw quite a bit of action in the Patriots dime defense. He looked very comfortable in coverage and was able to add a sack late in the game.
Devin McCourty: A-
McCourty gave up a couple of passes to tight ends while playing corner, but otherwise, he had another fantastic performance as the backstop for the Patriots defense. Tapping the ball to Marquice Cole instead of catching the ball out of bounds was the type of heady play we expect from McCourty.
Alfonzo Dennard: B
Dennard didn't have a shutdown type of day but didn't give up anything easy. Tannehill was held under five yards per attempt, and the strong tackling and tight coverage of Dennard played a big part of that.
Steve Gregory: B-
Gregory was the play-caller in the huddle, wearing the green dot on his helmet that Jerod Mayo used to wear. He only had one tackle on the day but was able to hurry Ryan Tannehill on a few blitzes.
Kyle Arrington: B-
Arrington, who was replaced by Marquice Cole again due to a recurring groin injury, had a nice pass deflection in the game. The Patriots need him—and Talib—healthy down the stretch.
Duron Harmon: B-
Harmon finished the game with an interception—which he technically should have batted down to save a ton of field position—and not much else. Gregory and McCourty were the main safeties Sunday.
Logan Ryan: A
Ryan made a huge impact against the Miami Dolphins, sacking Tannehill twice, causing one fumble and nearly intercepting him as well. This cornerback draft choice is turning out quite nicely for the Patriots.
Marquice Cole: B
Cole made an incredible interception and filled in nicely for Arrington again this week. While at his best on special teams, Cole has shown that he can contribute on defense as well.
Stephen Gostkowski: A+
Gostkowski continued his fantastic 2013 season with another perfect performance. His kickoffs pinned the Dolphins deep, and he was 2-of-2 on field goals. He is now 20-of-21 on the year.
Danny Aiken: A
After a couple of shaky snaps against the Jets last week, Aiken was back to his normal, reliable self against the Dolphins. In windy conditions, his snaps were perfect.
Ryan Allen: B
Allen punted in difficult weather and was perfect in his holding duties again. The Patriots certainly haven't missed Zoltan Mesko this year.
Matthew Slater: B
Nate Ebner: B+
Tavon Wilson: C+
Michael Buchanan: B
Chris White: C
The Patriots special teams continue to play well, limiting opponents' returns and setting the Patriots up with good field position. A blocked field goal by Chandler Jones was icing on the cake. Two penalties—one by Ebner and one by White—were the only blemishes on the day.
All statistics courtesy of the Patriots Media Relations Department and the NFL.