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Untold story from Patriots' win: Marcus Cannon's revenge on Von Miller

Marcus Cannon kept All-Pro linebacker Von Miller in check on the field where Miller dominated him in last season's AFC Championship Game. Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- What a turnaround for New England Patriots right tackle Marcus Cannon.

Returning to the scene of arguably one of the worst performances of his career in last year's AFC Championship Game, when Denver's Von Miller blew by him to consistently wreak havoc, Cannon flipped the script in the Patriots' 16-3 win over Denver on Sunday.

The six-year veteran was one of the players of the game, holding Miller without a sack or quarterback hit while generally handling him in one-on-situations when they arose. Cannon was also a beast as a run-blocker, which is his forte.

"Denver put Miller on our right side most all the entire game, so those two really were matched up a lot," coach Bill Belichick remarked. "I think Marcus did a real solid job for us, as he always does."

If the 6-foot-5, 335-pound Cannon was more comfortable in front of reporters' microphones, his performance probably would have generated more headlines in the immediate aftermath of the Patriots' victory.

But on Monday, after film review, his coaches did the talking for him and shined the spotlight on his strong play in a highly anticipated rematch with Miller.

"[Miller] is one of the best players in the league at any position. We tried to have some presence on him, but I thought Marcus did a really consistent job of just trying to make it hard on him and keep him from having an easy path inside to the quarterback -- tried to be physical when we had our opportunities," offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said.

"We ran the ball a lot, so that was a change for us in the last few games we’ve played against them. Marcus is continuing to improve and get better and better each week. He's answered every challenge that's been put in front of him, and this was certainly one of, if not the, top players in the league. So Marcus did a nice job of doing his assignment, playing within the scheme, and trying to just make it tough for him to make big plays and impact the game in a negative fashion."

After a hiccup on the first play of the game, maybe the only other mistake Cannon made was leaving his carry-on luggage in the locker room after the game, forcing him to return long after most of his teammates had departed for the team buses. Even then, he was still smiling when he came back for it.

The smile reflected what has been a decisive turnaround for him, sparked in part by the return of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.

"Marcus has got a great attitude. He cares about the game, he tries to get better, he cares about getting better and being dependable for his teammates," said McDaniels, also noting how Cannon has helped tutor second-year right guard Shaq Mason.

"He has just become more consistent each week [and] each year that I’ve had an opportunity to be around him. I think he's just trusting his preparation and playing -- he always plays as hard as he possibly can. He prepares hard, he practices hard. It means a lot to him to do his job, so we're happy to have him over there. I think he's really had a nice year and had a good game for us yesterday. He really answered a big challenge, and he'll have another one this week."