Patriots stock report: Week 10

Posted Nov. 14, 2011 @ 3:19 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Every week, PFW associate editor and Patriots writer Kevin Fishbain will identify three up-and-comers and three players/units going in the opposite direction in the Patriots stock report.

Rising

1. QB Tom Brady: Think Brady paid attention to everyone saying he looked "off"? Brady returned to the form we saw in the first few games of the season with a stellar effort against one of the league's top pass defenses. He completed 26-of-39 passes for 329 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. His message to the rest of the league — my arm is fine.

2. Pass rush: Led by DE Andre Carter, the Patriots put plenty of pressure on Mark Sanchez, who had a completion percentage of just 51.2 percent. Carter had 4½ sacks and eight QB hits and DE Mark Anderson added half a sack and a QB hit. 

3. Special teams: After having been uncharacteristically poor of late, Scott O'Brien's special-teams unit came up big in the spotlight. Recently signed Niko Koutouvides recovered a fumble on a muffed punt, PK Stephen Gostkowski was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals, including a 50-yarder, P Zoltan Mesko dropped two punts inside the 20-yard line and the kickoff coverage units held Jets KR Joe McKnight in check.

Falling

1. Injury bug: The Patriots continue to get stung by the bug, with top CB Devin McCourty (shoulder) the latest to go down. Starters Josh Barrett and Dan Koppen and key reserves Myron Pryor, Mike Wright and Ras-I Dowling are all on injured reserve. Brandon Spikes missed the game with a knee injury and Dane Fletcher has not played since Week Six.

2. Running game: After rushing for a career-high 136 yards against the Jets in Week Five, BenJarvus Green-Ellis had eight yards on eight carries. The Patriots' rushing attack — if you can even call it an "attack" — managed 60 yards on 28 carries (2.1-yard average). Brady and the passing game bailed them out, but that will need to improve moving forward.

3. Third-down offense: It obviously didn't make a huge impact on the result, but the Patriots converted just 4-of-13 third downs into firsts, and were 0-for-1 on their one attempt on fourth down. The only time Brady's throws were a bit shaky came on some third-down plays.