BOSTON (CBS) — Survive and advance. That is what you have to do at this time of year and that’s what the Pats have done.
It wasn’t a pretty win Saturday night against the Texans in the Divisional Round, but it wasn’t a loss. And that’s all that really matters when the postseason comes around.
Here are your Gold Stars and Penalty Flags from New England’s 34-16 win over Houston:
– Julian Edelman gets a gold star. Seriously, how clutch is Edelman when the game is on the line? He finished with eight catches for 137 yards. He set the tone on offense, and moved the chains when the Pats needed to. He helped the unit speed things up when the offensive line was getting beat up the gut. Edelman continues to be a match up nightmare for opposing defenses. It’s amazing how far he’s come.
– Dion Lewis gets a gold star. A kickoff return for a touchdown, a receiving touchdown and a rushing touchdown. Dion had the spotlight on him in his first postseason game, and he answered the bell. The scary thing here is he’s still not all the way back from that ACL tear from last season. He’s going to get better.
On Saturday night against the Houston Texans, he was great (fumbles aside, of course).
– The Rutgers Three get gold stars. Duron Harmon, Devin McCourty and Logan Ryan, all former Scarlet Knights, each had a great game, as all three collected an interception.
Ryan has been playing solid lately and his converge skills have been off the charts. They are now letting him come off the edge on corner blitzes. He’s just become a difference maker.
McCourty is a captain for a reason. He’s been setting the tone on that defense. Big hits? Devin is there for them. Interceptions? Devin is there jumping a route. He’s become a perfect safety.
Harmon is the closer. He does it all the time; closing out games with a pick and he did it Saturday night. The Rutgers trio has been great in the New England secondary.
– Vince Wilfork gets a gold star. It was sad to see Vince on the losing end of what probably will be his final game, but what a career. The fans thanked Vince, he sent his love to the fans and it was a fitting ending to a strong career. Wishing Vince only the best and one day soon, he will be wearing a red jacket in the Patriots Hall of Fame.
– Martellus Bennett gets a penalty flag. This was the first time in a long while where I thought the Patriots missed Rob Gronkowski. All week long, Martellus was playing the cool role and saying his approach to this game will be just like any other. Here’s the deal: the playoffs are not like any other game and he needs to get serious. Afterwards, he admitted, he was pressing and that was good to hear.
Marty will be a focus against the Steelers, and the Divisional Round was a teaching moment. Bennett has to get better.
– The Pats’ offensive line adjustments get a penalty flag. I get it. The Texans decided to put Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus over the center and that caused problems for Tom Brady and the offense line. The Patriots are the best at making adjustments, but it took them forever to figure this out. The good news is, only the Texans have those type of players. But leaving Brady out there to get pummeled without leaving someone in to help can’t be the answer. They will clean that up.