Print and Go Back New England Patriots [Print without images]

Sunday, January 20, 2013
Ups and downs for the Patriots

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – At an initial glance, a look at Patriots players whose performance was “up” in the AFC Championship Game, and those at the opposite end of the spectrum:

Alfonzo Dennard – Cornerback plays the deep ball well and is competitive in coverage, as he flips to the left side when Aqib Talib leaves with a thigh injury after two series.

Aaron Hernandez –Makes one big mistake – failing to go out of bounds at the end of the second quarter that forces the Patriots to burn a timeout – but is otherwise one of the team’s top playmakers.

Wes Welker – His third-quarter drop is a turning point, but he is otherwise excellent, as both a pass-catcher and punt returner.

Tom Brady – Quarterback doesn’t play his best, with mismanagement at the end of the second quarter one of the downers.

Steve Gregory – Tough assignment to cover tight end Dennis Pitta on Pitta’s 5-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, and the Patriots are hurt in the middle of the field.

Brandon Spikes – Although he finishes with double-digit tackles, linebacker is a step behind in coverage against tight end Dennis Pitta and also is penalized for being offside in the third quarter.