meriweatherby Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Sunday’s game against overmatched Tampa provided plenty of opportunities for various Patriots to step up. Tom Brady completed 72 percent of his passes (23 of 32) and broke the 300-yard mark while connecting on three touchdowns. Wes Welker caught 10 passes for 107 yards and took a “Family Circus” route to the end zone for a TD. Jerod Mayo’s eight tackles led the defense that kept the Bucs a safe distance from winning.

Of all the candidates though, Brandon Meriweather stood out first and foremost. First, because he ended Tampa Bay’s opening drive. Foremost, because unlike any other 2009 Patriots defender, he returned a turnover for a touchdown.

The initial pick would have given Meriweather a solid chance for the coveted PD prize; the second put him over the top. With Tampa quarterback Josh Johnson seeming to regain some confidence on the ensuing drive (two completions for 40 yards), Meriweather shut the door once again. He tracked a high Johnson pass and intercepted the young QB at New England’s 15, returning it 31 yards. The Buccaneers would not get as deep into Patriots territory until they scored near the end of the half, facing a 21-7 deficit at the break.

For setting the tone early and settling nerves throughout, the three-year safety earns this week’s PD Game Ball. Enjoy the week off, Mr. Meriweather.

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