Patriots vs. Texans: Three Week 14 Stars of the Game

5 of 5

Honorable Mentions

Dec 13, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots running back James White (28) celebrates with running back Brandon Bolden (38) after scoring a touchdown during the second half against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

I really tried hard to find a way to get Akiem Hicks a mention in the three stars, but he just missed the cut. Hicks was incredible on Sunday night, absolutely dominating in the pass rush. Hicks finished with two sacks and three quarterback hits against the Texans, and will play a large role on the defensive line going forward.

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LeGarrette Blount was running the ball strong in the first half (10 carries for 53 yards) before leaving the game with a hip injury. He never returned, but Brandon Bolden stepped up admirably, finishing with 16 carries for 51 yards. James White also played well in Blount’s absence, making his mark in the receiving game with four receptions for 38 yards. White also scored on a two-yard touchdown run.

Wide receiver Keshawn Martin was active early with three receptions for 23 yards, including the Patriots’ first touchdown of the game. Martin was also doing good work on punt return duty, but muffed punt in the third quarter ruined all of his good work. Martin looked good early, and I was ready to give him credit in my post-game work, but that muffed punt was a killer. You simply cannot have that.

Jamie Collins and Jerrod Mayo were both very good at the linebacker position for the Patriots, as were Rob Ninkovich and Malcom Brown up front. All four players were keys for the Patriots in defending the run, and Collins was his usual dominant self in coverage. Ninkovich also added a sack.

Ryan was the star with his coverage on Hopkins, but Butler taking away number two receiver Nate Washington was impressive as well. The Patriots allowed Butler to defend Washington with almost no help, and he performed extremely well.

Also, the recently acquired Leonard Johnson stepped up as the team’s third corner back, and played extremely well. Johnson was lined-up on Cecil Shorts through most of the game, and Shorts only caught two passes for nine yards. Johnson’s extravagant celebrations on pass break-ups were incredibly entertaining to watch as well.

Of course, Tom Brady’s 22-for-30 performance for 226 yards and two touchdowns deserves mentioning. This may not have been the best we have seen from Brady, but he was extremely efficient, and always made the plays when the Patriots needed him to. Strong performance from Brady.

Next: Patriots Win, but Injuries Continue to Mount

When it comes down to it, this was a great overall team win for the Patriots. This team stepped up and took care of business. This was not a must win situation, but losing three in a row would have been ugly, and they rallied together to take home a dominant victory.