The New England Patriots take on the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, October 26, 2014.
A little more than a week after winning on the final play of a dogfight against the Jets on Thursday Night Football, Sunday afternoon's battle with the Bears was never in question for the Patriots.
New England rolled to the 51-23 victory by continuing the pick up momentum with the passing game on offense, most notably with what's once again become a record-setting Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski tandem that connected three times for touchdowns to send Chicago back home with its tale between its legs.
Brady led the New England offense to points on its first six possessions, including five touchdowns. Thanks in part to three touchdowns in a 57-second span late the first half the home squad went to the locker room with the 38-7 advantage and never looked back.
The performance gave the Patriots a four-game winning-streak and continued the team's momentum heading into a difficult five-game stretch that begins next Sunday evening against Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
While New England's No.1 ranked pass defense was barely challenged by Jay Cutler and the Bears, it's clear the Patriots offense is hitting its stride at the right time with a few potential shoot-out games on the horizon. Against Chicago the success included 64 percent on third downs, nearly 500 yards of offense to go with the 50 points and overall domination.
The superlatives and impressive performances were a plenty Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium, but here are a look at some of the very best and worst of the individual efforts in the extremely impressive blowout of the Bears:
Rob Gronkowski** – Only dehydration could slow Gronkowski down on this day, with the tight end heading to the locker room for fluids in the third quarter after scoring his third touchdown of the afternoon. Big 87 gets better by the week and once again keyed the attack with nine catches for 149 yards and the three scores, including an impressive tackling-breaking, rumbling 46-yard score on his final play of the day.
Tom Brady – Doesn't seem too long ago that descriptions of No. 12 revolved around the words aging or declining. But the best way to describe Brady on Sunday was dominant. He finished the day with the same number of touchdowns, five, as he had incomplete passes. And those five incompletions included two drops by Julian Edelman and one by Shane Vereen. Brady completed 30 of 35 throws for 354 yards with the five touchdowns, no interceptions or sacks, for a 148.4 rating. His 85.7 completion percentage was one of the most efficient days of his career. Brady was near perfect. He's now topped 100 passer rating in four straight games and has 14 touchdowns and no interceptions in those contests.
Brandon LaFell – The more the passing attack hits its stride, the more LaFell seems to be comfortable and involved. LaFell notched his fourth career 100-yard game, and second as a Patriot, with a game-high 11 receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown. He's beginning to really fall into place as a complementary option for New England as a favored, trusted Brady target. LaFell caught the first pass of three straight drives to open the game.
Julian Edelman** – Early in the year Brady said the only play on the offense doing his job was Edelman. Sunday, just about the only guy failing to make plays was Edelman. The slot receiver had just only one catch for 14 yards, including a couple drops. The more the rest of the offense hits its stride, the less involved Edelman has been of late. He did have a nice 42-yard punt return late in the first half to set up a touchdown.
Bryan Stork – The rookie center returned to action after missing two weeks with a concussion. That's good. The bad is that he had three penalties, including a pair of false starts. Not good for the guy who is literally right over the ball and starts the play.
Tackling/Penalties – These types of things don't cost a team in blowout victories, but they are the kinds of things that can cost you a game against a good team in heated, down-to-the-wire battles. New England had a variety of missed tackles on defense by guys like Jamie Collins, Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and Darrelle Revis. The seven penalties for 38 yards is an improvement from the season-high of 15, but it's still something that could be cleaned up even more in the coming weeks as the games become tighter.
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