Obviously the entire game was fun to watch, but there were 4 plays that demonstrated team strengths that haven't really been utilized much this year...and bodes well for eventual use in the playoffs. 1) Gregory interception The Pats back 7 is typically very predictable. They drop vertically and chase horizontally. Avoids confusion and mistakes but is easy for QBs (even average ones) to read. On this play, Gregory and McCourty showed a cover 2 look (check their feet pre-snap). At the snap, Gregory sprinted across the middle and McCourty dropped into a single high look. Sanchez took a 3 step drop and took his first read...having no idea that Gregory would undercut the route starting from the offensive left. From the pre-snap look, Sanchez eliminated that side of the field (1 receiver, 2 DBs) so Gregory was invisible to him. Any QB (Goober included) will have problems with defenders changing vertical lanes post-snap. Do it wrong and the defense could expose itself to a big play. But Gregory seems instinctive enough to pull it off at key times. 2) Option on 3rd and short A frustration I've had in the past (not so much this year) is that the Pats are really good at getting 9 yards in 2 downs. Left an inordinate amount of 3rd-n-1 situations. Once you get to playoff time, you really can't count on winning all those scenarios. In the Jets game, the Pats faced a 3rd-n-1 in their own end and lined up in an I formation (2 TE) with Vereen and Ridley in the backfield. Even ignoring the passing options available, this leaves 3 rushing options for the defense to defend: a. Brady sneak...DL needs to collapse to the middle b. Ridley FB dive...LB and S need to crash the strong side of the formation c. Vereen handoff/pitch On this play, Brady fakes the dive to Ridley and option pitches to the weak side to Vereen. There aren't enough defenders to account for this. The Jets defend this pretty well and Edelperson/Solder don't do a great job on their blocks...and Vereen still gains about 5 yards before contact. In an ideal situation, Vereen gets the outside at full speed with only the weak side safety between him and the end zone. The ability to threaten the outside on short yardage (seen again on Ridley's TD) is a new dimension that should make it much easier to sustain drives without feeling forced to pass on short yardage situations. 3) Mayo Sack On a 3rd and 6 (I think?) for the Jets, the Pats show a man look with only Mayo in the middle of the field with 2 deep safeties. The OLBs are wide on the LOS with the option to rush or drop. At the snap, Mangold doubles Wilfork and the Pats rush both defenders to take on D'Brick/Slauson. This leaves a gaping hole that Mayo knifes through to sack Sanchez before any receivers can get free and before the TE/RB can release. This worked for 3 reasons...Mangold didn't recognize the Mayo blitz until it was too late, the Pats defenders jammed up all the receiving options for a couple of seconds and Sanchez wasn't ready for a free rusher. These situations don't always align so you need to pick your spots carefully. But it was nice to see the Pats roll out a blitz scheme that was unexpected and scored a clear, decisive win on a key down. 4. Vereen TD Catch I've been begging for this since seeing Vereen in the preseason. After the non-butt-induced fumble recovery, Brady had a basic 3 wide set with Vereen in the backfield. Motioned Welker and saw that the 2 DBs on the offensive left were in a man/switch scheme. The LB (Scott) on that side stayed inside so the defensive right was pretty sparse. After the snap, everyone has been saying that Welker ran a rub route on Scott to free Vereen. Actually Scott moved to bracket Welker inside and when Lloyd ran Cromartie deep, that side was essentially empty. If teams are going to press inside like this, Vereen is a weapon to make them pay. This went the distance because a) Vereen runs and catches like a WR and b) Cromartie was still covering Lloyd even after Vereen had caught the ball and started downfield. Each of these situations reflect areas that the Pats have struggled with in the past, but that they now have the talent to address. File these away in the memory bank and look for them when the real bullets start flying in January.