Snap counts: Ocho's emergence (sort of)

DENVER -- A look at snaps played by offensive skill-position players in Sunday's 41-23 win over the Broncos, while analyzing what it might mean (as charted in press box, small margin for error):

TE Rob Gronkowski -- 75 of 78

TE Aaron Hernandez -- 72 of 78

WR Wes Welker -- 70 of 78

WR Chad Ochocinco -- 54 of 78

RB Danny Woodhead -- 28 of 78

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis -- 20 of 78

TE Nate Solder -- 19 of 78

RB Stevan Ridley -- 18 of 78

WR Tiquan Underwood -- 15 of 78

RB Kevin Faulk -- 8 of 78

WR Julian Edelman -- 7 of 78

FB Donald Thomas -- 4 of 78

(Includes defensive pass interference. neutral zone infraction, delay of game, illegal use of hands, offensive holding, 12-men-on-the-field and offensive holding penalties.)

ANALYSIS: Chad Ochocinco's 54 snaps were his second highest total of the season, behind only his 60 in Week 3 against Buffalo. Yet unlike the Buffalo game, Ochocinco came through when Tom Brady spotted him deep, this time for a 33-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter. Because the play happened early in the game and Ochocinco didn't have another catch, and Ochocinco declined media interviews after the game, his early contribution wasn't highlighted much in post-game coverage. With Deion Branch out with a groin injury, Ochocinco stepped in as the No. 2 receiver over Tiquan Underwood (15 snaps) and Julian Edelman (7). There was one play along the left sideline when he wasn't on the same page with Brady -- which highlights the season-long struggle between the two -- but overall one could make the case this was Ochocinco's most important performance with the team (he was active blocking downfield). The following is Ochocinco's snap progression over season, which shows how he had almost been phased out in recent weeks before Sunday in Denver: 18, 17, 60, 18, 32, 7, 11, 18, 16, 11, 0, 10, 4, 54. ... The Patriots ran 19 plays with OT Nate Solder as a big TE, which meant that rookie OT Marcus Cannon had his most extensive action when Solder was in that role (and then the ensuing play, because Solder, by rule, can't go from eligible receiver to tackle without missing one play). Cannon seemed to hold up well at initial glance. ... The distribution at running back between the top three backs was about as even as we've seen all year -- Danny Woodhead (28), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (20) and Stevan Ridley (18). If the Patriots can get that three-headed attack going as they enter the playoffs, it would naturally help. ... And it was business as usual for the top tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. They hardly leave the field these days.