Receiver mix reflects team approach

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One aspect that stands out from the Patriots' five-game winning streak is that different players are stepping up to get the job done each week. One of the prime examples Sunday was receiver Brandon Tate.

Here is a look at the snap counts for the top three receivers since the Deion Branch/Randy Moss trades:

Welker: 62/45/44

Branch: 54/43/24

B. Tate: 35/24/38

By looking at the numbers vertically, it shows how Tate was playing mostly behind Wes Welker and Branch in wins over the Ravens and Chargers. He wasn't a big part of the attack in those wins.

But with Branch slowed by a hamstring injury Sunday, Tate delivered with the extended opportunity.

He wasn't alone as the Patriots had several players in secondary roles deliver some big plays, which is the sign of a solid team:

1. Outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain, whose role has been reduced in recent weeks from starter to sub rusher, had perhaps his best series at the start of the third quarter. He had a tackle and pressure on two of the final three plays as the Vikings were held to a field goal.

2. Defensive lineman Myron Pryor, rushing from an interior position, put a good, clean hit on Vikings quarterback Brett Favre in the fourth quarter that knocked Favre out of the game.

3. Defensive lineman Ron Brace, who was a healthy scratch last week, had the big push on the clutch fourth-and-1 stop at the 1 late in the second quarter.