At the midway point of the NFL Europe season, Patriots linebacker Maugaula Tuitele is leading a remarkable defensive effort by the NFL Europe's hottest team, the Rhein Fire.
With a 24-20 victory over the previously undefeated Frankfurt Galaxy over the weekend, Rhein extended its winning streak to four games and moved into a tie for first place with the Galaxy, with both teams having a 4-1 record. Tuitele posted a team-high nine tackles, a fumble recovery and pass defensed. He has played a huge role in the success, leading the team with 29 tackles and adding three passes defensed and a pair of fumble recoveries.
A starter at inside linebacker, Tuitele is a major reason Rhein is the top defense in the six-team league. The Fire ranks first in total yards allowed (1,174), rushing yards allowed (413) and touchdowns allowed (seven). They are also second in passing yards allowed (803) and points allowed (76).
On the other side of the Rhein-Frankfurt game were New England-allocated offensive linemen Mike Clare and Patrick Downey. Clare and Downey have started every game as the starting guards for the Galaxy. Until running back Curtis Alexander was injured on the second play of last weekend's game, he was the league's leading rusher, thanks in part to the blocking of Clare and Downey.
Two other Patriots playing overseas have not experienced as much team success. Wide receiver Scott McCready started strong with five catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns in the Scottish Claymores' opener, but has cooled since. He still leads the team with 12 catches, 152 receiving yards and the two touchdowns. The catch and yardage totals rank 14th and 15th in the league, respectively.
McCready suffered a hand injury that hampered him for a few weeks, but he showed signs of breaking out again with four catches for 45 yards in a Week Five 16-13 win over Amsterdam.
The win ended a three-game skid and improved the Claymores to 2-3. Teammate Radell Lockhart got his first start of the season and had a season-high three tackles. He has eight tackles on the year.