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PATS on the Back: Week 8 vs. Minnesota

Myron Pryor and Brett Favre (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

6-1, the best record in the NFL.

Who would’ve believed that a team that lost their best cornerback (Leigh Bodden) and one of their most reliable defensive lineman (Ty Warren) in the preseason, then lost their third down back (Kevin Faulk) to season-ending injury, then traded away a former first rounder (Laurence Maroney) and a future Hall of Fame receiver (Randy Moss), would be 6-1… again, the best record in the NFL!?!

It’s been a truly unpredictable NFL season, but the Pats have risen to the top and did so yet again on Sunday, with a 28-18 victory over the very disappointing Minnesota Vikings. New England was outplayed through much of the first half, but as they went into the locker rooms at halftime, the teams were knotted at seven. From there, it was almost all Patriots. Contributions came from up and down the roster, on both sides of the ball. From Devin McCourty’s strip/interception, to Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham stuffing a huge fourth down run, to Danny Woodhead’s direct snap touchdown run to get the Pats on the board, to Myron Pryor’s hit in the fourth quarter that would knock out the immortal Brett Favre and sideline him with a boo-boo on the chin, this was definitely a team win, in every sense of the phrase.

“PATS on the Back” could be given out to several worthy nominees this week, but today we’re going to highlight some of the offensive performances, starting with a career day from the team’s newest rushing sensation…

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB

“The Law Firm” put up rushing totals that topped anything he’s ever accomplished in his short three-year career. Green-Ellis put up a career-high 112 yards on the ground, running the ball 17 times. His two second half touchdowns kept his scoring streak rolling, now having found the end zone in five straight games. Sunday’s win also marked BJGE’s first multi-touchdown game in the NFL. He’s making us all forget that Fred Taylor’s even still on the roster, and has made Laurence Maroney a distant memory as well. How long he can keep this pace up, we’ll have to see, but for now the Pats are holding court with “The Law Firm,” and it’s paying dividends.

Brandon Tate, WR

Green-Ellis will certainly remember this game for a long time, and Brandon Tate will as well. Tate caught just three balls on the day, but it was his 65-yard touchdown grab that helped get the Pats back on top in the third quarter, giving them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The play wasn’t designed for Tate at all, in fact, it was a broken play altogether. Brady was looking to go to Wes Welker as the primary receiver, but when he couldn’t find a way to get him the ball, he checked down to Tate, who was wheeling his way downfield. A few jukes and broken tackles later, Tate was celebrating in the end zone, for his first career receiving touchdown.

The Offensive Line (Matt Light, Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal, & Sebastian Vollmer)

BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Brandon Tate wouldn’t have made the big plays they did without the stellar play of the offensive line Sunday. They opened the holes for BJGE to run through, and they held the talented Viking pass rushers in check to give Brady the time to fit the ball in where it needed to be, as with Tate’s big TD catch. It was the first game since the opener that the Pats didn’t allow a sack, after allowing ten of them in the last three games. Keeping Tom Brady healthy and upright is the most important job on the field… without him out there, this team would be up crap’s creek… so a big kudos goes out to the fearsome fivesome on the front line, for a job well done.

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