By: Ian Logue
Last Monday night the Patriots fought their way up the field against the Dolphins on a 99 yard drive that took just one play, thanks to a great move by Wes Welker to break free and scamper down the field for a touchdown.
On Sunday, following a goal line stop by their defense, the Patriots did it again – only this time they needed 10 snaps before punching it in against San Diego to take a 17-3 lead.
Taking another look, here’s a closer breakdown of each of those 10 plays:
PLAY #1) 1st and 10 at inside their own 1: New England opened up in a spread offense, with Brady in the shotgun. Split out wide to the right was Julian Edelman, with Aaron Hernandez in the slot on that side, and Rob Gronkowski standing off the line in tight. On the other side was Welker, who was in the left slot and Deion Branch spread out to his left.
On the snap, Welker broke inside, caught the ball at about the six yard line, before breaking to his left and heading up the middle of the field and going down at about the 13 yard line. On the play Branch ran straight down the field, taking Antoine Cason with him and leaving Welker with a mismatch against Chargers inside linebacker Donald Butler.
PLAY #2) 1st and 10 at their own 13: On this play Brady’s under center, with two tight ends, two receivers and BenJarvus Green-Ellis lined up in the back field. Split out to the right is Deion Branch, while on the left hand side is Chad Ochocinco. Lined up on the left hand side as the first tight end is Dan Gronkowski, while on the right hand side is his brother Rob Gronkowski.
On the snap Ochocinco gets a great release off the line, with the defense sitting in what appeared to be a zone. He runs straight out, which takes Chargers defensive back Antoine Cason out, and then breaks inside across the middle. Brady finds him at the 33 – which is where Ochocinco makes the reception. He then turns to his left and starts to take off, but defensive back Quentin Jammer managed to grab his foot and tripped him up. He’s officially marked down at the 43 yard line.
PLAY #3) 1st and 10 at their own 43: On this play Brady’s back in the shotgun, with Ochocinco split out on the right, Welker in the right slot, and Rob Gronkowski at the right tight end spot. On the play Ochicinco looked to be a bit unsure of where he was supposed to be lined up, but ends up getting set. Meanwhile on the other side, Branch is in the left slot, Hernandez split out to the left – but he’s in fairly tight and off the line. Just to Brady’s right is Danny Woodhead – who appears poised to try and pick up the blitz on this play.
They bring Welker in motion, crowding the left hand side with three receivers. On the snap, San Diego brings pressure up the middle and Woodhead steps up to try and stop the blitz, but he loses the battle and Donald Butler takes Brady down for the sack. Watching the replay it also looked like Brian Waters didn’t pick up the right guy and there appeared to be some confusion on the blocking assignment on the adjustment. The loss of yards ends up being about 7, and brings them back to about their own 36 yard line.
PLAY #4) 2nd and 17 at their own 36: They’re back in nearly the identical formation, with Brady still in the shotgun with basically the same personnel. The only real exception in the alignment being that this time Woodhead’s in a little closer to Brady. On the snap Branch ends up running a deep in, with Brady finding him across the middle and Branch catching the ball at about the 51 yard line, before turning it upfield and dives down to the 44 yard line.
Nate solder played a big part in New England’s 99 yard drive against San Diego on Sunday.. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
PLAY #5) 1st and 10 at the Chargers 44: This time Brady’s back under center, with two tight ends. On the right hand side they have Branch split out wide, while Hernandez is lined up in the slot. Lined up in the backfield is Stevan Ridley as the lone back behind Brady. On the snap, Brady hands the ball off, and you can see Logan Mankins come flying out of his stance at left guard to the right hand side. He gets there just in time to seal out Butler, who tried to come up and make the tackle. Nate Solder also did a great job at right tackle of keeping his guy out of the play and helping open up the lane Ridley ran through. His guy reached back, but he couldn’t reach him. Ridley picked up 6 yards on the run.
PLAY #6) 2nd and 4 at just beyond their own 39, with it officially marked at their own 38: Brady’s back under center, while split out wide to the left is Julian Edelman, while in the left slot is Hernandez. In the backfield behind Brady is Ridley, while Gronkowski is lined up off the line. The interesting part of this alignment is Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle, and Solder lined up just to his right as a tight end. He wasn’t listed as ‘eligible’ on this play.
On the snap Ridley once again gets the carry, and there’s some pretty good collisions on the right hand part of the line, with Gronkowski firing out and picking up his man, as does Solder. Waters and Solder meet up and do a great job of blocking down field, with Vollmer left to grab his guy and Gronkowski’s. Unfortunately the victim on this play ended up being center Dan Connolly, who lost his battle with Chargers defensive tackle Cam Thomas – and he ended up being the one to make the play. The highlight of this play was Ridley’s ability to find what little daylight he could and pick up 3 yards to give them a third and one. He was initially grabbed at the 39, and then spun out of it to grab three more yards and fall forward to near the first down marker.
PLAY #7) 3rd and 1 at very close to the San Diego 35 yard line: Another two tight formation. With Solder lined up on the left side this time, and Hernandez on the right. Split out wide to the left is Welker, with Rob Gronkowski at the right tight end spot. An interesting twist on this play as lined up directly behind Brady is Hernandez as a fullback, with BenJarvus Green-Ellis lined up behind him. On the snap Brady fakes the handoff to Green-Ellis, and Hernandez takes off into the right flat, heading into the area Gronkowski had just run through. However, he’s running a bit of a deeper route, which has San Diego safety Bob Sanders completely turned around and on his heels as he scrambles in what appears to be a panic to chase him. That leaves a nice opening for Hernandez – who ends up catching the pass from Brady at the 35 yard line. He breaks across the first down marker, and then takes a pretty good shoulder shot from Jammer – who knocks him out of bounds. The hit just falls off Hernandez, as he looks unscathed and heads back to the huddle.
Oddly enough on this play Gronkowski broke past Jammer – who came up knocked and Hernandez out of bounds. Had Brady waited another second – this could have been a much bigger play as Gronk would have been even farther behind Jammer with plenty of room in front of him. Although on film – everything looks easier.
One other note away from the ball, Matt Light completely pancaked his guy, while Nate Solder did a tremendous job of protecting Brady against Chargers linebacker Travis LaBoy.
PLAY #8) 1st and 10 at the Chargers 33: On this play Brady’s back under center, with Hernandez split out to the left, Welker in the left slot, while Branch is split out wide to the right. In the backfield this time is Woodhead. At the left tight end is Rob Gronkowski. On the snap Brady hands off to Woodhead, who runs to the left hand side – which is completely sealed off by Mankins, Light, and Gronkowski. Unfortunatley on this play Brian Waters doesn’t fire out quite quickly enough and he misses his block, and Gronk doesn’t see it soon enough either – and it’s that guy who ends up bringing him down after a four yard gain at about the San Diego 29 yard line.
PLAY #9) 2nd and 6 from just inside the Chargers 30, officially listed as the 29: Brady’s back in the shotgun, with the offense spread out. Split out to the right is Woodhead, in the slot is Gronkowski, while Hernandez is in tight but not in a 3 point stance. On the left is Welker in the slot, Branch split out left.
On the snap Hernandez takes a few steps and turns in with his hands reaching forward looking for the underneath throw. Apparently Brady wasn’t looking for that play, and rolls slightly to his right as the protection begins to break down, and then steps up, and then slides left before firing to Branch, who had adjusted over to the middle of the field and was standing there all alone. He was straddled with his left foot almost on the 23 yard line, while his right was halfway between the 21 and 22. After making the catch Branch turned it up and took it down to about the 10-yard line.
The highlight away from this play was the battle with Vollmer and San Diego defensive tackle Ogemdi Nwagbuo, who he kept blocking throughout the play and landed a great additional push that knocked him over, and Vollmer fell on top of him. That obviously finished taking him out of the play.
PLAY #10) First and Goal at the Chargers 10 yard line – Brady’s in the shotgun with Branch split out left, Welker in the left slot, Gronk at the right tight end spot but out of his stance, Hernandez in the right slot, and Woodhead split out right. On the snap Gronkowski runs down the field, and as soon as he breaks inside Brady fires it to him, with the second year tight end making the catch just before taking a shot from free safety Eric Weddle – who they called for a helmet-to-helmet ‘unnecessary roughness penalty’.
It doesn’t matter because the touchdown counts, and that play capped an impressive 10-play, 99 yard drive, and ended up being one of the key drives in the game after that incredible defensive stop at the goal line for the Patriots.
You can also view additional stats from this game in our new stats database, which gives you a detailed breakdown of down, quarter, direction, and more. You can view the San Diego game here.