1. Julian Edelman — Caught nine balls for 110 yards and a pair of TDs, with all but one of those catches (14 yards) coming after intermission. A huge night for him, coming alive after this football team trailed 24-0 at the half.
2. Rob Gronkowski — He’s such a weapon. Forces the defense into mismatches everywhere. And yet, with defenders draped all over him, he delivers your basic seven catch-, 90-yard night with a TD. Healthy, he stamps this team as one to watch in the AFC come playoff time. But he, more than anyone other than Tom Brady, must stay healthy.
3. Chandler Jones — He’s the only one on this defense capable of making an offense flinch. Makes it 10.5 sacks on the year to lead this team and was in Peyton Manning’s face a half-dozen other times.
1. Dont’a Hightower — The Pats used Dane Fletcher and an absolutely gimpy Brandon Spikes over him in the second half, and I’m not sure Hightower was hurt.
2. Stevan Ridley — Another third-rounder headed to the scrap-heap. Ball security. It’s like the boxer who bleeds every fight. There’s nothing you can do. If you can’t hold on to the football, you start relying on that LSU degree.
3. Rob Ninkovich — Zero solo tackles and 13 assists mean you’re getting to the pile a little late. He’s being asked to play out of position, so we will take it easy on him, especially with the Pats coming back to win.
GRADING THE GROUPS
Line (C) ... The running game is as inconsistent as can be. And Tom Brady was under siege the entire first half. The line nearly got the QB’s head taken off. Yes, it settled in and finally slowed down Von Miller and Co. in the second half, but there are issues here.