by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

You know what? We have gotten sick and tired of giving the lofty PD Game Ball to opposing quarterbacks after losses (Peyton Manning, for example). After his 371-yard, five-touchdown performance, Drew Brees deserves a mention, but we’re taking our Game Ball and going home, so to speak.

maroneyLaurence Maroney has been the object of debate since the Patriots drafted him in the first round in 2006. During his four-year tenure, he has been injured (and not played), hurt (and played like he was a Ming vase) and solid (see: 2007 playoffs).

Last night’s effort at New Orleans (15 carries, 64 yards, two TDs) will fall short of getting him into Patriots Hall, but for the first time this year we at PD feel we have seen some consistency from Maroney. If he can clean up the fumbling (three in three games), then he can become the dependable, oft-dynamic runner New England needs to keep their offense on the field (and opposing offenses off it).

On Maroney’s NFL player page we see highlights that demonstrate his improvement. On his first touchdown, Maroney converts a fourth-and-one into much more, bolting straight ahead into the end zone. On his second TD, he follows Sammy Morris wide to the left and picks the proper seam to six. The third highlight shows his 22-yard run where, with the entire Saints defense flowing to his right, he cuts back left, shirks a would-be tackler and finds open space.

Also (and one of the more enjoyable aspects of an overall rough night for Pats fans), Maroney knocked down a defender or two in fighting for extra yardage. We can even overlook the fumble because Maroney made the ball-jarring tackle on Sedrick Ellis that got it back.

Therefore, Mr. Maroney, in honor of your aggressive-yet-selective running style, we give you this week’s PD Game Ball. Hold on tight: the rest of the season could get bumpy.

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