We saw a great matchup between the Broncos and Patriots on Sunday, where there were five former Rutgers stars on New England's active roster. While Kevin Snyder was activated just before the AFC Championship game, Logan Ryan, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, and Jonathan Freeny were all expected to make significant contributions to their defense.
Unfortunately, Snyder did not see the field on Sunday after being called up from the practice squad two days before. Regardless, this was a good opportunity for Snyder to be on the sidelines, and hopefully see action next season with New England.
Kevin Snyder was active, but did not play. Would have been something to make your career debut in the AFC Championship Game.— Dan Duggan (@DDuggan21) January 25, 2016
Rookie LB Kevin Snyder of Rutgers, promoted from practice squad Saturday, takes part in his first pre-game warmup. pic.twitter.com/U09Uj0Hdcr— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) January 24, 2016
Ryan gave Demarius Thomas fits in their Week 12 matchup, and he had another solid performance on Sunday Ryan recorded 5 tackles, a pass deflection, and held Thomas to just 2 catches for 12 yards. Despite his strong effort, Ryan was called for a terrible pass interference play on the first drive that kept the drive alive, later resulting in a touchdown from Peyton Manning to Owen Daniels. Ryan made huge strides this season to be a strong defensive back for Belichick, and in just his third season, we can expect him to continue to grow into a productive NFL player.
Most Improved/Breakthrough #Patriots: Logan Ryan Malcolm Butler Duron Harmon Jabaal Sheard Dion Lewis (RIP) Akiem Hicks Chung M.Brown White— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) January 25, 2016
Logan Ryan with a big 3rd down play in coverage in AFC title game. #RFootball— Aaron Breitman (@aaron_breitman) January 24, 2016
Logan Ryan penalty keeps drive alive, Manning finds open receivers all down the field on way to TD.— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) January 24, 2016
McCourty had a relatively quiet game, only recording two tackles and a pass deflection while covering tight end Vernon Davis. Following the difficult loss, McCourty again proved himself as a classy leader of his team, as he was sent out to conduct the post-game interview with CBS instead of HC Belichick or Tom Brady.
Devin McCourty with a great pass break up vs Vernon Davis. #Broncos came out passing twice in a row.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 24, 2016
Wow. Did the @Patriots just send out Devin McCourty to give the post-game comments for the team?RU rah rah & all, but seriously?!— Allan Sison (@AllanSison34) January 25, 2016
Devin McCourty give the post game interview for New England to CBS. ??????? pic.twitter.com/nQkfrKsr5P— Michael Pruitt (@Michael_Pruitt1) January 25, 2016
McCourty also shared some of his thoughts on the game in the locker room surrounded by reporters.
Harmon started in the nickel position on Sunday, but was unable to record any stats against the Denver offense. He did, however, celebrate his 25th birthday the day before, so wishing Duron a happy belated!
In the first quarter, Manning set up a lateral pass to running back Ronnie Hillman. Freeny followed the play perfectly, punching the ball loose and recovering the fumble. This great defensive play set up the Patriots' first score of the game. This was, without a doubt, the play of the game by any of the former Rutgers players.
Also credit to LB Jonathan Freeny for awareness to pick up football on that backward pass.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) January 24, 2016
that challenge, TD all thanks 2 Jonathan Freeny's heads up play..regardless of the whistle always go after a loose ball #NEvsDEN— Lance Medow (@LanceMedow) January 24, 2016