1. Fred Taylor - Finally, the Laurence Maroney experiment is over, and Bill Belichick has turned the running game over to a competent professional. Taylor carries 21 times for 105 yards and a score as Maroney (thigh boo-boo) sits and rides the stationary bike.
2. Brandon McGowan - Lowered the boom on Michael Turner, forcing a first-half fumble at the pivotal juncture of the second quarter. With the game tied at 10-10, Atlanta looked comfortable on offense, ready to take charge with a first down at the Pats' 31. Instead of taking the lead, the Falcons lose the football, and New England marches down the field to grab a 13-10 halftime lead. Just a huge play for a defense seeking identity to rally around.
3. Brandon Meriweather - "Sometimes I was getting man-to-man coverage and as soon as I went into somebody's zone, he would jam me," said Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez of his one-o'clock shadow, Meriweather. The safety closed the bracket on a double team that limited the soon-to-be Hall of Famer Gonzalez to one catch for 16 yards.
1. Gary Guyton - Something has to be done about the middle of the football field. Guyton simply is not stout enough to play inside. He runs like a gazelle from sideline to sideline, but can be and was exploited on plays right at him
2. Joey Galloway - If this receiver corps wasn't so thin, he'd be retired right now. Tom Brady's presence commands a better effort than the 37 year old is providing.
3. Laurence Maroney - He and his thigh injury were skipping around the locker-room after the game. Finished with 17 yards on four carries.
Grading the Groups
Line (B+) - I factored in the degree of difficulty with the task at hand here. Atlanta rushed four linemen all day, blitzing twice, so this one was on a tee for the big boys. However, they did muscle up and open holes for a 1,000-yard rusher, something we hadn't seen here since Dec. 14, 2008.