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Matchup Winners: Browner shuts the door

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WHEN THE PATRIOTS RAN


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In reality the Patriots didn't do a whole lot on the ground and that was completely by design. Rather than banging heads with the top-ranked rush defense in football, the Patriots instead featured a predominantly passing attack and it worked quite well. New England gets the edge here based on a small handful of successful plays, however. LeGarrette Blount, fresh off his exile from Pittsburgh, was able to plow his way into the end zone on a pair of short-yardage runs – the latter admittedly in garbage time. He also busted loose for a couple of sizable gains, including a 33-yarder in the fourth quarter – also admittedly in garbage time. He finished with 12 carries for 78 yards while the Patriots managed 90 yards on 20 carries (4.5-yard average). Considering New England had just 5 yards rushing at the half, that production wasn't bad.  EDGE: PATRIOTS

WHEN THE LIONS RAN


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Joique Bell ran hard but simply didn't have a lot of room to move. He was consistently met around the line of scrimmage, and whenever he tried to bounce one toward the edges he was consistently met by extra bodies. That's the kind of run defense that was lacking over the first month-and-a-half of the season but has been a constant as of late. Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins continue to plug gaps behind Vine Wilfork, and Alan Branch saw his playing time increase a bit as well. Bell finished with 48 yards on 19 carries (2.5-yard average) and the Lions only had 91 yards on 25 attempts (3.6-yard average). Despite the fact that the Patriots generally employed extra defensive backs and invited the Lions to run, as was the case in previous weeks against the Broncos and Colts, New England was still able to eliminate the ground game and make the opponent one-dimensional. EDGE: PATRIOTS

WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASSED


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After handing the ball off 45 times last week in Indy the Patriots had Tom Brady attempt 53 passes against the No. 1 scoring defense in the league. The result was a 24-6 halftime edge and a second half that served as an extended practice. Brady completed 38 of 53 for 349 yards and a pair of touchdown tosses to a largely forgotten Tim Wright, who Detroit is still looking for in the end zone. Brady did throw a bad interception at the goal line early in the second half to James Ihedigbo, and the former Patriots should have had a second later in the half but dropped it. Brady used his wideouts effectively as Julian Edelman (11 catches, 89 yards) and Brandon LaFell (nine catches, 98 yards) were open throughout. Shane Vereen caught eight balls but managed only 48 yards, and Rob Gronkowski was limited to five catches for 78 yards, although he made two big receptions late in the first half to set up a field goal. The offensive line also did a tremendous job of keeping Brady upright as he wasn't sacked by a talented Detroit front despite the heavy workload.  EDGE: PATRIOTS

WHEN THE LIONS PASSED


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This was probably the secondary's finest performance of the season. Specifically, it was by far the best effort from Brandon Browner in a Patriots uniform. Browner took the unenviable task of matching up with Calvin Johnson, and he did so quite often without much help over the top. Browner was typically tight to Johnson all day, and on the few occasions when the big wideout shook free Matthew Stafford was unable to get him the ball. Johnson finished with four catches for 58 yards, and none of them had an impact on the game. Interestingly Darrelle Revis drew Golden Tate and Stafford seemed to favor that matchup early – and with some brief success. Tate caught a pair of passes on the opening drive that resulted in a field goal, but Revis tightened up from there and Tate had just four catches for 97 yards on 11 targets. Stafford had a miserable day, done in by the Patriots tight coverage, a sneaky effective pass rush and some terrible drops from his receivers (Jeremy Ross in the end zone). The results were ugly as Stafford hit on just 18 of 46 passes for 246 yards and an interception.  EDGE: PATRIOTS

SPECIAL TEAMS


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This almost was a huge day for Scott O'Brien's boys but they had to settle for simply winning the matchup. Danny Amendola broke an early kickoff return 81 yards to set up the Patriots second touchdown on the day in the second quarter and that highlighted a strong day on special teams. Ryan Allen fielded a low Danny Aiken snap on a bounce and unleashed a 66-yard bomb that flipped field position in the first quarter, and that came when the Lions were leading 3-0 and enjoying some early momentum. Stephen Gostkowski was once again perfect, hitting both field goals and delivering five touchbacks. Detroit's Matt Prater missed an early field goal and also mishit the kickoff that resulted in Amendola's big return. Each of his other attempts resulted in touchbacks. Edelman returned a punt for a touchdown in the second half only to have it wiped out by a pair of penalties, but considering the overall dominance elsewhere that was a mere blip on the radar screen.  EDGE: PATRIOTS

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