BOSTON (CBS) — It’s time to hand out the gold stars and the black thumbprints for the Patriots’ win against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

The Gold Stars

The whole running operation gets a gold star. What I saw on Sunday was a very collective effort to establish the running game. Without their best offensive lineman in Logan Mankins, the Patriots had a record day on the ground. Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden were the headliners, but the dirty work was done by others. Donald Thomas, Sebastian Vollmer, Ryan Wendell, Nate Solder, Rob Gronkowski and Daniel Fells — everyone on that offensive line, tight ends included, gets gold stars.

Wes Welker gets a gold star. Do we need to ask anymore questions?? When Welker is involved in the offense, things start to happen. Sure, he lost a fumble but what he did afterwards, to keep the Patriots moving the chains, was just highlight-reel stuff. Welker had another big game against the Bills. He is their kryptonite. Welker crushes the Bills every time he plays them.

Devin McCourty gets a gold star. A week ago against Baltimore, many people thought McCourty had maybe his best game since his rookie year. The only problem with that game was a terrible coverage play that caused a pass interference call, and he kept dropping passes that could have been interceptions. He held on to the ball this week against Buffalo, making two interceptions, which helped pace the Pats to six turnovers. It’s good to see McCourty back on the positive side of the talk.

Vince Wilfork gets a gold star. Vince is having a monster year so far and if you didn’t know, well then he sent a message on Sunday. The hit he put on Donald Jones is one that will be played over and over again. It was crushing and when it happened the whole stadium moved about 6 inches. Vince dropped into coverage and put on the smack.  Awesome to see.

The Black Thumbprints

Stephen Gostkowski gets a black thumbprint. I know Bill Belichick says he’s not worried but if he’s telling the truth, he’s the only one. He missed two more field goals in this game and they are field goals he’s used to making. There has never been a feeling that the Patriots could not trust their kicker, but all of a sudden that is starting to become a growing feeling among the fans. Stephen needs to get back on a roll.

Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory both get black thumbprints. Bills tight end Scott Chandler had two touchdowns in this game and it was a direct result of the Patriots safeties not being able to cover him. They have been pretty good for three games. The fourth was a letdown.

Follow Levan Reid on and on Twitter @LevanReid all Patriots’ season long!


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