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Another week, another hard-fought win for the scrappy New England Patriots. This time the win was extra sweet, as it was over Peyton Manning and the hated Indianapolis Colts. The Pats may have had trouble putting the Colts away late in the game, but we’ll let you negative nancies focus on that part. Instead, let’s look at the bottom line… New England won the game, 31-28, improving their record to a league-best 8-2, and they kept pace with the Jets, who also won in exciting fashion Sunday. The win also helped Tom Brady earn his record-tying 25th straight home win at Gillette, matching the mark set by the once talented Brett Favre, back in his Lambeau Field days.
So who stepped up their game and helped contribute to Sunday’s huge win the most? I see three guys who clearly elevated their game against the Colts, and that trio gets my “PATS on the Back” this week.
Sanders was coming off a performance that earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week accolades against Pittsburgh last week, so a letdown of sorts may have been expected for the young safety. But oh contrare… Sanders came up with arguably the biggest play of the contest, intercepting Peyton at the Pats’ 6-yard-line in the final minute of the game, stalling Indy’s comeback efforts and sealing the victory for New England. The pick wasn’t an easy one, as Sanders had to climb the ladder and get pretty high up in the air to haul in the interception in truly acrobatic form. Sure, Sanders was part of a secondary that allowed Manning to throw for almost 400 yards on the day, but New England’s “bend, don’t break” defense rose to the occasion when it counted most, and Sanders continued to show his knack for making big plays when the pressure is on.
It was a career day for the diminutive Pats running back, with Woodhead racking up a 69-yard day on just seven carries. The rush that mattered most, though, was his 36-yard scamper to the end zone that capped off a late third quarter drive, giving the Pats a 28-14 lead heading into the final quarter. If that wasn’t enough, Woodhead came up with a big special teams tackle on the very next play, seconds after scoring the TD on offense. Indy’s defense just simply couldn’t find Woodhead at times, as he bobbed and weaved his way behind New England’s taller offensive line, only to poke through with a big gain, time after time. Seriously, what’s not to like about this guy!?!
I could’ve probably given my third “POTB” to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but I’ll tell you what put Meriweather over the top in my mind in a minute. First, let’s focus on the on-field accomplishments of Mr. Meriweather. An opening drive interception by the Pats safety set the tone early for New England, with Meriweather running back the pick 39 yards to set up Brady and the offense on a short field. Four plays later, it was a Brady-to-Welker pass over the middle that gave the Pats an early 7-0 lead that they would never relinquish. So they had Brandon Meriweather to thank for that. What I’d really like to thank Brandon Meriweather for however, is the entertaining choice of headwear he made during a post-game interview he had with WBZ’s Steve Burton. Brandon, where do you find a hat like that? It’s like John Wayne meets Daniel Boone. It’s a step below the “urban sombrero” from the Jay Peterman catalog on “Seinfeld.” That was the kind of hat you find Joan Rivers tearing apart on one of the “fashion emergency” shows on E!. Only a man like Brandon Meriweather can pull off a hat like that… you keep stylin’, you funky, funky dude you!