1. Julian Edelman — Closed out his Patriots’ MVP season with a solid performance, 10 catches for 89 yards and a touchdown … with the asterisk that his and most of the Pats’ offensive numbers were built up when the game was already basically decided.
2. Dont’a Hightower — On a day the defense got absolutely torched, he was a bright spot with seven solo tackles.
3. Austin Collie — Again, anything you got from this guy is an absolute bonus. He caught four passes for 57 yards … again with the asterisk that his and most of the Pats’ offensive numbers were built up when the game was already basically decided.
1. Danny Amendola — Five million plus a year? For what? An oft-injured, big-game bust of a wide receiver. No catches on one target in the biggest game of his life. Potentially the worst deal Bill Belichick has ever made.
2. Alfonzo Dennard — Why was he asked to cover Demaryius Thomas alone with no help within 20 yards? Potentially, the dumbest individual defensive decision this team has made in the Belichick era.
3. Logan Mankins — To think he and his offensive line were overwhelmed by these softies from Denver. Got beat up the gut much too often. There was nothing in the run game. Awful day for Mankins and his guys.
GRADING THE GROUPS
Line (F) … New England managed 320 yards of offense, but 160 of those came in the fourth quarter after Denver had built a two-score lead. There was no room to run (2.3 yards a carry combined by Blount and Ridley). And Tom Brady got belted relentlessly by 3- and 4-man rushes. The right side fared better than the left, but Nate Solder, Logan Mankins and Ryan Wendell clearly suffered through career-worst days. Shades of the Giants and the February ’08 Super Bowl come to mind.