By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
After dominating the fourth quarter on both sides of the football, the Patriots ultimately came away with a comfortable 14-point win over the Packers and one of their most complete team efforts of the season.
That’s especially true on the defensive side of the ball. Tom Brady and the Patriots offense didn’t have a perfect night, but they came through when it really mattered in the fourth. The defense, meanwhile, delivered for most of the 60-minute run time in holding Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to just 17 points.
So with that, let’s go over some quick thoughts on whose stock is rising (or falling) after the win.
Rising: Josh Gordon
Five catches for 130 yards and a touchdown for Gordon, adding up to his best game yet in New England. He delivered the final dagger with his 55-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown after making his one potential tackler miss, putting the Patriots up 14 for good. Like in Chicago, the Patriots needed a big-play threat down the field without Rob Gronkowski. Gordon stepped up.
Falling: Pass protection
Brady had time to throw on some of the Patriots’ bigger gains, but third downs were a problem and the Packers’ extra rushers made it through untouched at times. Brady had to eat the ball and take two nothing-I-can-do sacks, and the second one came with the game tied 17-17 in the third quarter. It doesn’t help that the Patriots were without starting right guard Shaq Mason for an entire game since 2016, but there’s still some things to clean up. Overall, this isn’t a big concern. Just a down night by their standards.
Rising: Adrian Clayborn
After an inconsistent first half of the season, Clayborn stepped up and shined with easily his best game as a Patriot. He came up with a huge fourth-quarter sack on Aaron Rodgers that he shared with Trey Flowers, and added another sack, two QB hits, and three total tackles. He did commit an early neutral zone infraction penalty, but certainly made up for it with everything that came afterward. The Patriots signed Clayborn to be a disruptor, and Sunday night was his most consistent effort.
Falling: Jonathan Jones
The only way Davante Adams could make an impact on the game was when he didn’t have Stephon Gilmore covering him. Jones couldn’t keep up with Adams on what turned into a scramble drill for his two-yard touchdown in the second quarter, which tied the game 10-10 at the time. Jones failed to record a pass breakup in one of his lesser efforts of the season. But it’s kind of nitpicking after a game like that to find a low point for the defense, which was excellent overall.
Rising: Cordarrelle Patterson (as a running back)
Incredibly, Patterson looked like an actual NFL running back on Sunday night. It’s almost as if he’s a world-class athlete or something. Patterson may never pan out as a receiver in New England, but for Belichick and the coaching staff to find a way to make him this effective carrying the ball out of the backfield is just the staff’s latest stroke of genius. It’s a wonder how much longer he’ll last producing and protecting the football in this role, and he’s probably back to depth receiver duty once Sony Michel returns. But for now, the Patriots are getting the absolute most out of Patterson as a running back, and he deserves credit for looking the part.
Falling: Tight end coverage
Jimmy Graham disappeared in the fourth quarter and remains one of the more overrated players in the NFL. But he’s still an athletic tight end who can catch the football, and the Patriots had trouble with him for much of the night. Tight end coverage in general continues to be an issue, which could explain why the Patriots are taking a flyer on ex-Raiders safety Obi Melifonwu. They could use more size and athleticism at that position, especially if and when they have to go up against more dynamic tight ends.
Next Rise & Fall comes next Sunday, after the Patriots take on the Tennessee Titans in a road tilt in Nashville.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.