WORST ELUSIVENESS Brandon Tate can motor. But when it comes to making people miss using anything other than raw speed, he's not gifted. After a Lions' first-half touchdown, Tate ran straight into a mess of defenders and basically stopped before trying a half-hearted spin.
BEST LIVING UP TO BILLING
Lions rookie DT Ndamokung Suh had a sack and a three-yard tackle for loss on the Patriots' first two drives and New England was soon in a position where it was double-teaming him on most every snap.
BEST PLOWHORSE IMITATION BenJarvus Green-Ellis hammering home a 15-yard touchdown run at the end of a forgettable first half, capped by his carrying a Lion the final five yards into the end zone.
WORST ATTEMPT TO GET CREATIVE
The Patriots tried to execute a flea-flicker early in the third quarter. It would have been a neat little trick if it had worked. But Green-Ellis seemed to hold the ball too long and Brady got hit as he released the ball. Pass incomplete.
11-25-2010 11:45 PM
Re: Unofficial Week 12 Pats at Lions Post-Game Analysis
They got a big assist from the Lions who, as has become customary for them, had a few key penalties, turnovers and blown plays to hurt themselves in a game where they had leads of 14-3, 17-10 and 24-17. But the Patriots did win this game because quarterback Tom Brady was perfect (no, really, he was with a 158.3 rating) and both sides of the ball found a way to make big plays (mostly from CB Devin McCourty and WR Deion Branch). When you limit your mistakes – Patriots had no turnovers and just five penalties – you’re going to be hard to beat when you make explosive plays.
THREE THINGS TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT
1. Passing offense: After seeing his completion percentage go down after the Randy Moss trade (61.4, 59.4, 59.3 to 52.8 vs. Browns), Brady has been on the rebound with 69.8, 76 and 77.8 against the Lions. Brady had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 against the Lions as he went 21 of 27 for 341 yards and four touchdowns. The emergence of WR Deion Branch has really helped the offense. He played on one hamstring against the Vikings and the Browns. You can see what a difference a healthy Branch makes.
2. Growth of McCourty: Rookie cornerback Devin McCourty continues to play better with each game. He had two interceptions against the Lions and the first was on a beautiful read against Calvin Johnson. It’s obvious McCourty is studying his butt off because you can’t just make those plays on instinct, you have to know tendencies of the opposing offense. He did the same thing agains the Colts. It’s hard to imagine where the Patriots’ shaky secondary would be without McCourty. He’s just been so solid, which is a great thing for a rookie.
3. Offensive line adjusted: Maybe the veterans were a little creaky in the early going or they figured out the Lions’ games on the lines, but for whatever reason the offensive line was much more sound in the second half. Brady was beat up in the first half but was kept much more clean in the second half when he was 10 of 14 with four touchdowns.
THREE THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT
1. Safety play: James Sanders does a decent job in the back end even though the Patriots could really use Patrick Chung’s athleticism back there. Brandon Meriweather continues to struggle. The Lions had two big plays to Calvin Johnson and on both of them, Johnson was the only receiver on that side of the field – same side as Meriweather’s. Yet Meriweather was slow each time getting over. The Patriots will need him to make better and quicker reads as the games become more important – like next Monday night’s showdown against the Jets.
2. Brandon Tate: The Patriots could also use a legitimate deep threat to keep defenses honest and Tate hasn’t been getting it done. He had a crucial drop in the first half on third down. Tate needs to make those plays more consistently.
3. More hits on the quarterback: OK, so you don’t need the huge sack totals (although those help) but the Patriots definitely need to thud the quarterback a little bit more. Officially they had three quarterback hits and two of them were sacks recorded on the Lions’ final drive in garbage time. Patriots will need to rattle the likes of Mark Sanchez and Aaron Rodgers more.
11-26-2010 12:05 AM
Re: Unofficial Week 12 Pats at Lions Post-Game Analysis
On if the Patriots changed something to neutralize the pass rush later in the game:
"They started protecting up a little bit more; they started keeping their tight ends in the protection; they were mixing; they were throwing some balls really quick. Brady doesn’t take a whole lot of sacks anyway. But I thought that there were some that they schemed that they were going to protect up with seven or eight guys and try to take shots down the field, flea-flicker, things like that, to try to take the heat off of him. Other times he was throwing really quick. But I think your point is that we didn’t maintain that pressure. We had good pressure early but I think Brady in particular did a good job of getting rid of the ball in some of those situations. When he was holding it, it was a calculated hold because they had play action and a lot of guys in protection."
On if the 79-yard touchdown was a missed play in coverage, or if they were just beat:
"That’s man-to-man coverage. We were looking in the back field and didn’t cover our guy."
On CB Alphonso Smith:
"They went after him. He didn’t play his best. He’s played very well for us this year. He made a lot of plays for us. But this game wasn’t one of his best games. It was probably a lot of things, but one of which was trying to do too much. In man-to-man cover, your man, don’t worry about trying to do more than that. I think that’s where, in particular, on two plays, in one play it broke down, in another one he was a victim of the double move. (In) man-to-man your job is to stay with your man."