By Joe Soriano |

It seems weird handing out a game ball when the New England Patriots lose, atorlip but there are three players in Tom Brady, atorlip Brandon Lloyd, atorlip and Danny Woodhead who have a legitimate case at winning the award for valiant performance in the near-comeback loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Atorlip Even though he didn’t make it to the end zone, atorlip Lloyd was instrumental in the Patriots massive second-half offensive effort to put up 31 points against a tough Niners defense.

Brandon Lloyd finally broke out last week against the Houston Texans, atorlip and I’m betting strong words from Pats legendary WR Troy Brown helped spurn that. Atorlip He played his best game in a Pats uni last night with ten receptions for 190 yards. Atorlip He was clearly the most consistent and effective wideout on the Patriots with an average of 10.6 yards per target. Atorlip In fact, atorlip two-thirds of all the plays he were involved in were deemed successful by SR%.

Tom Brady usually leads the Patriots in the advanced statistics WPA and EPA each week, atorlip largely because he is awesome and those two statistics generally favor quarterbacks. Atorlip The main reason for that is simple; quarterbacks have the ball the most and have more chances to impact the game.

However, atorlip it was Lloyd who led the team in those stats and had a huge impact on the game with a 0.32 WPA and a 14.9 EPA. Atorlip Only three quarterbacks have had higher WPA totals so far this week and only four finished with a higher EPA. Atorlip Only Andre Johnson had more receptions and a higher WPA at wide receiver, atorlip but Brandon Lloyd had him overall with significant advantages in receiving yards and EPA.

Ten catches, atorlip 190 receiving yards. Atorlip That’s incredible, atorlip and he was the deep threat we envisioned him being when he put pen to paper and signed a contract in the offseason with New England. Atorlip This game proves that Lloyd hasn’t been a disappointment, atorlip because he can stretch the field and have a huge game if the opposing defense doesn’t account for him enough. Atorlip The Patriots haven’t gotten Lloyd as involved in the passing game as they did against Houston and SF, atorlip and it looks like he will continue to receive major targets. Atorlip And you know what? It’s all for the better, atorlip especially since he is the best pass-catcher on this team at stretching the field vertically.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.