There's no debating Brandon Spikes can be a hard-hitting impact player for the Patriots. The fumble he forced under the two-minute warning in New England's 52-28 win over Buffalo swung some badly-needed momentum back to his team, which was down 14-7 at that time.
Tom Brady lauded the linebacker during a Monday morning WEEI interview.
"That play that Spikes made to knock the ball out from C.J. Spiller . . . I love being on the team with Brandon Spikes. What he does for our defense, and creating fumbles, and really the hard-hitting presence that he is in the middle of the field. Brandon brings that physical element, and to knock the ball out of Spiller like that, that was really awesome."
And not unlike a play Spikes made in Week 2 against the Cardinals.
"That's what he did against Arizona, to knock the fumble off running back Ryan Williams, but that was one of the best plays that I've ever seen anyone make," Brady continued. "He has a nose for the ball, he has a nose for knocking the ball out, and that was a huge play in the game yesterday. For Vince Wilfork to be on the top of it and to recover it, that was a huge play in the game."
Spikes also had a fourth quarter forced fumble, which the Patriots converted into a touchdown. At that point New England was up 28-21 and just starting to gorge itself on scoring drives. But despite the comfortable cushion the team ended up with, Spikes' contributions were not lost on his teammates in the post game.
"He had a huge game," Wilfork said in the locker room. "He caused, what, two, three fumbles? One was on the goal line -- it was seven points. He's coming into his own. He's becoming a big player and, you know what, we need that from everybody."
The challenge is for Spikes to deliver that kind of effort week after week.
We can write odes to his electricity -- he's New England's thumper, a guy who admitted during the 2011 playoffs, "I can get a little crazy out there." But some of Spikes' energy feels like unmet potential, crackling yet unleashed under the surface.
During his first two years consistency was an issue partly because injuries and a suspension kept him off the field. This season he's started all four of New England's regular season games and there's no news of lingering pain holding him back.
So why does he sometimes go dark? Where was the Spikes Spark when New England allowed Ray Rice to average 5.1 yards on 20 carries last week?
When you have a guy who seems able to defibrillate the unit at will, consistency is expected instead of asked for.
Spikes' teammates, from the quarterback to defensive captain, believe he's capable. He just needs to keep proving it.