FOXBORO — Although he may not get the recognition like Rob Gronkowski or Tom Brady, there is no denying a major reason for the Patriots’ seven-game win streak has been the play of wide receiver Brandon LaFell.
Over the last six games, LaFell has caught 37 passes on 53 targets for 489 yards and four touchdowns, emerging as a third option for Brady besides Gronkowski and Julian Edelman.
LaFell continued his strong play Sunday with nine catches on 12 targets for 98 yards.
“It feels great to be where I’m at now compared to where I was at at the beginning of the season,” he said following the game. “Going out there, putting together good games back-to-back, earning time, trust, and the coaching staff’s trust. And the trust of my teammates to depend on me in big-time situations like it was today; to come to me in that situation. So it feels good, but as a whole offense and as a whole team, it feels good to be in the position we are at now.”
The first-year Patriot did go down awkwardly on his last catch of the game — late in the fourth quarter — landing hard on his shoulder and did not play another snap, but LaFell says he’s fine.
“I’m good. If we had a game tonight, I’d be ready to play,” LaFell said. “I’m good, I won’t miss [any] time. My body’s feeling great.”
The receiver has developed a good relationship with Brady on back-shoulder throws, something Brady eluded to during his weekly press conference this week. LaFell said it is a good way to stretch out defenses.
“We go out there and we throw the ball down the field. It kind of loosens defenses up,” he said. “They can’t sit on routes, they can’t put extra guys in for the run. You need to hit a couple of those plays or just throw them a couple of times a game just to loosen a defense up.”
Even though the Patriots scored 31 points — eclipsing the 30-point mark for the fourth straight game, LaFell said the team still left some plays on the field. As a team they committed 11 penalties for 84 yards, but as has been the case during the winning streak, when the Patriots needed a big drive or a big play they got it.
“It felt great, but at the end of the day it felt like we left a lot of plays out there,” he said. “We started off on fire and then we just got in our own way with penalties in the third quarter. When we needed a big drive at the end of the game we came out there and produced one.”