Game Balls and Goats
Randy Moss - After two substandard games as a top tier receiver, Moss bounced back in a big way against the 49ers. He was on the receiving end of a Matt Cassel bomb in the first quarter resulting in a 66-yard touchdown. It was the longest of Moss's Patriots career, and the longest since a 79-yard TD in October 2005 when Moss was in Oakland. The TD was Moss's 25th as a Patriot. Moss could easily have had another score in the second half when the Patriots were in the red zone threatening to score and Matt Cassel scrambled out of the pocket only to throw the ball away to the left. Moss was wide open in the end zone on the right side. Moss did have one penalty (interference) while blocking for a Wes Welker screen. The penalty negated Welker's first down on a third and 10 play.
Stephen Gostkowski - 3 for 3 on the night with 17 in a row since last season. Gostkowski's clutch kick from 49 yards (after the moss penalty) sealed the game by making it a two-score lead for the Patriots.
Kevin Faulk - Two scores on the ground earned Faulk praise from his head coach and his teammates. The patriots used an old direct snap play for Faulk's second touchdown, the same kind of play Miami used effectively in week three against them. It was Faulk's first 2-TD rushing performance of his career. He finished with 7 carries fro 32 yards, and 2 TDs. Faulk also added 4 receptions fro another 29 yards and returned a pair of punts fro 18 yards.
Rodney Harrison - Harrison led the defense with his own interception to put the Patriots in prime scoring position on the 49ers 24 yard line. Harrison also tipped another 49ers pass late setting up Deltha O'Neal's first INT as a Patriot.
Matt Cassel - Cassel finished 22/32 for 259 yards, 1 TD and two INTs. His first INT wasn't his fault as he was hit as he threw. He also missed some wide-open receiver, but generally deserve credit for tuning in a career best performance.
Laurence Maroney - Maroney struggled again on Sunday, finding little space to run, he would dance a bit and lose yardage. He gets the goat for running out of bounds on a key run around left end, instead of lowering his head and driving forward, Maroney stepped out of bounds (short of the 1st down marker) to avoid contact. He may be hurt, but 10 carries for 26 yards is not the way to impress anyone.
Logan Mankins - Something is happening to Mankins, he was beaten by Philip Merling (Dolphins) in the red zone leading to a Cassel sack two weeks ago and did nearly the same thing on Sunday against the 49ers. Mankins hasn't shown his trademark nasty streak and may be fighting through injury. Flagged for holding on a key third down play killed the Pats first drive in the third quarter.
Chris Hanson - Hanson wasn't abhorrent on Sunday, but he missed a number of opportunities to help put the 49ers in poor field position. 4 punts for 35.5 avg. and a 27.3 net aren't getting it done.
Patriots offensive line - in general the line did enough to win the game, but the team struggled opening big enough holes on a consistent basis. The also allowed Matt Cassel to be smacked around a bit too much.
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