After dominating the first half, the New England Patriots came out and almosr choked away a 13 point halftime lead in the game's final 30 minutes. Despite their best efforts, the Patriots triumphed with a 30-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. There were definitely highs and lows for New England in the victory.
1. Cyrus Jones - We're going to start with the most obvious one here. New England's top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft was brutal in the victory. A muffed punt in the third quarter started a series of poor special teams execution that let the Ravens back into the game. He also allowed a deep pass as Baltimore was trying to claw their way back into the game. After having a rough rookie campaign, it may be time for the second round pick to ride the pine the rest of the way.
2. Tom Brady - Another week, another record for Tom Brady. With three passing touchdowns, Brady now has 450 touchdowns through the air for his career. That makes him just the fourth quarterback ever to throw 450 or more touchdown passes. Tonight's win also gave Brady 52 career wins in December. Those 52 wins tie him with Brett Favre most career wins in December.
3. LeGarrette Blount - Blount's stats from the victory aren't eye popping bye any means. He had 18 carries for 72 yards and one touchdown. The touchdown gave him 14 rushing touchdowns this season. That is good for the lead in the NFL. Not only that, he is now tied with Curtis Martin for the most rushing touchdowns in a single season in franchise history. With his 72 yards, Blount has now gone over 1,000 rushing yards for just the second time in his career, the first time since his rookie season in 2010.
4. Defense - The numbers won't show it but the Patriots played a very strong defensive game in the win. Early in the first quarter, Malcom Brown got great penetration up the middle and forced a safety, the third of the season for the defense. For most of the game, the defense of New England was all over Baltimore's offense. Had it not been for the special teams miscues the stats would have reflected the performance of the defense.
5. Chris Hogan - With only three healthy wide receivers, it was imperative for the Patriots receivers to stay on the field. After being banged up early in the first quarter, Hogan quickly returned to the field. He did so to the tune of five catches for 129 yards and one touchdown. That touchdown was the one that sealed the win for the team. Hogan's emergence on the team this season must give the coaching staff a vision of what they expected from Danny Amendola after signing Amendola during the 2013 offseason.
6. Shea McClellin - This game was by far the linebacker's best game in New England. McClellin had nine total tackles, three of which were solo. He also had the huge field goal block that helped set the course of the Patriots holding all the momentum in the first half. If he can build on tonight's performance he will continue to see more time in the defensive rotation.
Extra Point - The race for the top seed in the AFC is heating up. New England will have one last tough test next weekend in Denver. Tom Brady has only won twice in Denver in his whole career. For now the Patriots are in possession of the top seed. The game against the Broncos and their stiff defense could change things. If the Patriots can leave Denver with a victory it should be smooth sailing to home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.