Linebackers: Brian Urlacher (9 tackles, Int, 3 PDs) had a difference-making kind of game. He had a key tackle for loss on a 3rd and 2 direct snap from shotgun to Kevin Faulk. Later he added a pass defended on a flat pass to Edwards. He stretched out over the middle to pluck an interception, and delivered a crushing hit on David Given that separated the receiver from the ball and his senses. Bobbie Howard created some pressure on the blitz. Mike Caldwell (8 tackles) had a very active game, with a lot of tackles, a pass defense, and a missed sack. Colvin did a good job in coverage not only on the tight end but also on some of the short routes the wide receivers were running in his area. Urlacher's play brings the overall grade of this group up, as well as the schemes employed by Blache. The Patriots completed a ton of passes underneath to their running backs. Some of that responsibility goes to the linebackers. Some of it goes back to Blache, whose blitzes left them exposed and undermanned a number of times for big yardage and touchdowns.
Defensive Backs: R.W. McQuarters and Jerry Azumah (7 tackles) did a good job of keeping wide receivers Brown (11/99), Patten (4/51, TD) and Branch (1/9) from doing big damage, right up until McQuarters got beat for the game-winning touchdown. He also allowed a 3rd and 10 completion to fullback Marc Edwards. It appeared that McQuarters was playing too far off the line to make a play, and Brady found the right receiver to get the necessary yards to keep the drive alive. Azumah was very sure in his tackling, which is important against a team that passes underneath a lot and relies on timing. He also dropped an interception. Mike Green (3 tackles) was a little less active in run support, because of all the multiple wide receiver sets. This meant he got to spend less time in the box and more in coverage and helping out the corners and linebackers. He and Brown were also solid in their tackling. Reggie Austin left with a knee injury. Mike Brown combined with Daniels to force a fumble. Brown (6 tackles, FF, TFL) also had a tackle for loss on a pass to rookie tight end Daniel Graham. Todd McMillon defended a pass that he appeared to get just enough of to disrupt a touchdown. It was a close play, and may have simply been a clean drop. Overall the coverage and tackling was good. Just like several of the other units, they came up short when they were needed the most.