1. Aaron Hernandez — Targeted 11 times, he caught nine balls for 129 yards and a touchdown. Just an immense day. He torched corners, safeties and linebackers. An equal-opportunity thumping.
2. Mark Anderson — Delivered the play of the day in the second quarter, foiling a Tim Tebow option pitch and then pouncing on the pillow for the recovery. Filled in brilliantly for the injured Andre Carter with three solos and a pair of sacks.
3. Ron Brace — For what seemed like the first time in his pro career, he reached out and touched someone, stripping the football from Lance Ball for a huge second-quarter fumble.
4. Wes Welker — One of the biggest 4-catch, 41-yard performances you will ever see. Pay the man, now.
1. Jerod Mayo/Vince Wilfork — A media critic mocked me a week ago for "no-showing" these two as Washington shredded the Pats defense for 170 rushing yards. This time, the Broncos averaged 8.1 yards a carry on their 31 tries for 252 rushing yards. Superman (that is, Tommy Two Sacks) Mayo led the way with seven solos, on which the Broncos gained 5.4 yards per play. Wilfork had three solos, but the bottom line is this defense was mauled on the ground, and these two guys are the face of it.
2. James Ihedigbo — Lost in coverage, yet still dances. I don't get him. He's making Brandon Meriweather's angles to the football look sharp. Don't talk the talk if you can't walk the walk.
3. Chad Ochocinco — The Broncos defense was there to be had. At least this week he managed as many catches as Tiquan Underwood.
GRADING THE GROUPS
Line (A) ... Nate Solder and Matt Light allowed a couple free runs at Tom Brady. Other than that, it was a monster day for the men up front, who blocked it up against various blitzes and two of the better edge pass rushers in the game. Pats backs ran 30 times for 139 yards, a 4.8-yard per carry average.