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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain
PFW associate editor Kevin Fishbain presents a running meter that indicates the Patriots' top five MVP candidates up through their most recent game.
1. QB Tom Brady: The offense finally returned to form, thanks to Brady. He had a season-high 350 yards throwing, completing 69.8 percent of his passes and tossing three TD passes to TE Rob Gronkowski. Brady also rushed for a score, emphatically spiking the ball in front of the Steelers' crowd. He was visibly frustrated earlier in the game and motivated his team on the sideline, and it worked. The Pats had one of their best all-around games and Brady had a field day against the Steelers' zone defense.
2. ILB Jerod Mayo: After a woeful game for the run defense in Week Nine, the Pats' "D" held RB Rashard Mendenhall to just 50 yards rushing, thanks in part to Mayo's run blitzing. Mayo recorded nine tackles, including a tackle-for-loss of Mendenhall in the backfield. He continues to lead the league in tackles with 105, 13 ahead of second-place Chad Greenway. Mayo helped the Pats' defense keep the Steelers in 3rd-and-long situations often in the first half, allowing the offense to build a big lead.
3. WR Wes Welker: Welker, like the offense, came up with a huge game on Sunday night. He hauled in eight catches for 89 yards and moved into the team lead with 444 receiving yards. His 52 receptions are tied for seventh in the league, and you saw Sunday what the Brady-Welker connection can do for the offense, especially when defenses can't take away his underneath routes.
4. TE Aaron Hernandez: In his least productive game of the season, the rookie did not record a single reception on two targets, and he was rarely on the field after being the team's leading receiver through nine weeks. The team made it clear that the move was done as part of their game plan to involve Gronkowski against the Steelers' "D," but it sure was jarring to see Hernandez not catch a single ball.
5. S Patrick Chung: The playmaker at safety returned to the field Sunday night and led the team with 10 tackles. Blitzing off the edge often in the first half, Chung made his presence felt and brought an aggressive feel to the defense. He stuck with Antwaan Randle-El when forced to cover him in the slot, and recorded a pass defensed when he tipped a ball to fellow safety James Sanders, which was taken back for a touchdown.