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PATS on the Back: Week 12 vs. Detroit

Tom Brady (Photo via LATimes.com)

It didn’t start off too well for the Pats on Turkey Day, but the end result was what most expected: an offensive highlight show, and a win for New England, 45-24 over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field Thursday.

The Lions came out out roaring in the first half, taking a 17-10 lead into the locker room through two quarters. But Tom Brady and the offense kicked it up a notch in the second half, outscoring Detroit 35-7 in the final 30 minutes, routing the Lions by 21 points when all was said and done.

“PATS on the Back” could go to several players who had significant contributions this week, from BenJarvus Green-Ellis and his two rushing TDs, to Wes Welker and his two receiving TDs and season-high eight catches, to Jerod Mayo and his team-leading 12 tackles. But this week, the three “POTBs” go to the following trio of Patriots, well-deserved after their superior Thanksgiving Day performances:

Tom Brady, QB

A perfect passer rating of 158.3 has to earn Brady top billing in this week’s “PATS on the Back” column. Don’t ask how QB ratings are calculated, because I’m not sure many people can explain it, but the Pats’ QB was definitely at the top of his game Thursday in Detroit. He completed 21 of his 27 passes on the day, racking up 341 yards and throwing four touchdown passes, all in the second half, which was a season-high mark for Gisele’s husband. It was his sixth consecutive game without throwing an interception, which ties for the longest such streak in Brady’s career. The Pats are going to go as far as Brady can take them, and if he plays like he played Thursday against the Lions, we may see the Pats in Dallas, come February.

Deion Branch, WR

Yes, Wes Welker had more catches than Branch against the Lions, but what Branch did with his three catches was very, very impressive. His hamstring injury seems to be a thing of the past now, as the yards after Branch’s catches wouldn’t have been possible on a bum leg. Branch helped tie the game at 24 in the third quarter, catching and running for a 79-yard touchdown pass, the team’s longest play from scrimmage on the year. His shifting and juking got him to the end zone, on a pretty run to paydirt. Branch’s second score on the day wasn’t as pretty, but the 22-yard catch early in the fourth gave the Pats a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. A healthy Deion Branch is going to be huge asset for the Patriot passing offense down the stretch, especially next week when the Jets come to Gillette, for a game that could ultimately determine the AFC East winner.

Devin McCourty, CB

Many “experts” think the eventual Defensive Rookie of the Year winner was on the Detroit Lions’ side of the field Thursday, with lineman Ndamukong Suh the early frontrunner for the title. But after a pair of key second half interceptions, Pats cornerback Devin McCourty may be making a case to challenge Suh for that coveted award. McCourty came up with two huge picks against the Lions, both of which were returned by the rookie for big yardage, 26 and 50 yards respectively. Both turnovers were turned into touchdowns, with a Brady-to-Welker TD and a touchdown run by “The Law Firm” capping off the short drives. McCourty has three picks in his last two games, and now five total on the year, tying him with Seattle’s Earl Thomas for the league lead amongst rookies (former Patriot and current Eagle Asante Samuel has the overall lead, with seven INTs this season). Many of us were skeptical when the Pats chose McCourty in the NFL draft this past spring, but we’re all glad they did now, for sure.

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