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Best and Worst: Patriots Special Teams PFF Grades at Pittsburgh



New England Patriots linebacker Chris Board (45) reacts after being defeated by the Los Angeles Chargers 6-0 in an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. He received the team's highest grade by Pro Football Focus in Week 14 against Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Greg M. Cooper)

The New England Patriots special teams unit continues to not look very special in 2023. Getting a block punt led to a Steelers touchdown on Thursday night. The missed block on the Steelers blocked punt might have cost one Patriots player his job. As they do every week, Pro Football Focus graded all the individual players in the game. A look at the best and worst from New England’s special teams grades in Week 14.

PFF Grading System

Before getting into the best and worst Patriots performances from Sunday, a quick review of what the numbers represent. Their are five possible tiers a grade places a player in:

  • 100-90 = Elite
  • 89-85 = Pro Bowler
  • 84-70 = Starter
  • 69-60 = Backup
  • 59-0 = Replaceable

New England’s offense enjoyed some production in Pittsburgh. As a result, there are fewer players with a good sample size about their performance. For anyone to qualify at the top or bottom of these grades, they needed to participate in at least half of the 25 special teams snaps.

Best of Week 14

Chris Board (79.6). Board played all 25 special teams plays. He was in on two of the four ST tackles, with a solo tackle and an assist. With no missed tackles, a very solid game for Board.

No other Patriots with the required number of snaps was graded at 65.0 or higher. Anfernee Jennings (74.6) and Jonathan Jones (67.2) were the next best performers according to Pro Football Focus. Both played only six plays on special teams.

Worst of Week 14

Matthew Slater (56.2). The special teams captain received a sub-60 grade despite making a special teams tackle.

Brenden Schooler (46.3). Schooler’s grade ranked last among special teams PFF grades against the Chargers. He followed that effort up by the second lowest grade against the Steelers. A missed tackle and foolish unsportsmanlike conduct penalty both contributed to his poor mark.

Ty Montgomery (29.4). Just four days after being the highest graded special teams player against Los Angeles, a missed blocking assignment against Pittsburgh led to a blocked punt. It may have contributed to the Patriots releasing Ty Montgomery the next day.

Pharaoh Brown (16 snaps), Joe Cardona (12), and Jahlani Tavai (22) were other special teams players with significant snaps that PFF graded below a 60.0.