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Patriots Film Review, Execution, Mismatches Key Victory

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
October 18, 2016 at 10:32 am ET

Patriots Film Review, Execution, Mismatches Key Victory(PHOTO: Stew Milne - USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 4 minutes

All-22 Film Looks at Turning Points in the NE Win

Reviewing this week’s game film from the Patriots win over the Bengals highlights a couple of key plays that led to the victory. Courtesy of the NFL’s All-22 Coaches’ Film we get a nice look at how they were able to do that.

The margin between winning and losing in the NFL often comes down to executing a few keys plays at important points in the game. In this case, the Patriots made them and the Bengals didn’t at crunch time and New England came away with a hard-fought win.

Here are some of the key plays of the game that allowed the Patriots to come from behind twice to winning by three scores.

James White 15-yard TD Reception: Late in the first half the Patriots are down 7-3, but Brady has the team moving after hitting a big 39-yard pass play to Chris Hogan that set the team up for a go-ahead score. The Patriots aligned trips left with three WRs, (Mitchell, Amendola, and Edelman) and TE Rob Gronkowski in-line on the right-hand side. James White is the lone back, aligned next to Brady on the right.

white-15-yd-td

The Bengals show their four-man front and have four defenders lined up evenly spaced at the 10-yard line trying to take away the short middle of the field. At the snap, Gronkowski takes his defender straight up the field into the end zone. That clears out a large amount of space for White who drifts out into the right flat.

Karlos Dansby has to come over from his position in the middle of the field and doesn’t have the speed to catch White, who had a big advantage in terms of room for him to move at the snap. It was an easy pitch and catch for a touchdown.

white-15-yd-td2

Dont’a Hightower Sack/Safety: This is the play that ultimately turned the tide and led the way to the Patriots second comeback and one that once they took the lead, they never looked back. The Bengals had taken the lead 14-10 early in the third quarter and after stopping the Patriots offense, had a chance to make it a two-score game.

But after getting backed up to the 8-yard line due to a holding penalty, they had the down/yardage against them as well as field position. The Patriots hadn’t been getting pressure on Andy Dalton much to this point, so Matt Patricia started getting a little creative and it paid off.

hightower-sack

The Patriots align in man coverage with the two safeties deep in the middle of the field. At the snap, both linebackers, Elandon Roberts on the left and Hightower, on the right come on an A-gap blitz. Roberts is picked up but Hightower loops around from his right to left and gets a free lane right at Dalton.

But the Patriots rushed just four, at the snap both defensive ends, Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich drop back into coverage. Dalton sees it coming and wants to go to his hot route, TE Tyler Kroft. But by dropping, Flowers is in perfect position, right in the throwing lane. Dalton has to pull the ball down and is sacked by Hightower resulting in a safety.

hightower-sack2

Bennett 24-yard reception: After the Patriots got the ball back at their 32-yard line, they were in business with good field position and the opportunity to get back in front. On their first play from scrimmage Brady hit TE Martellus Bennett with a 24-yard pass to put New England on the Bengals side of the field. It all stemmed from an excellent fake by Brady that set them up for a big gain.

The Patriots go 4-wide with a WR and TE split wide to each side. Bennett and Hogan were split wide right and Gronkowski and Edelman wide left. The Bengals again had five defenders, five yards deep trying to take away the short pass across the middle of the field. So Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels decides to go vertical.

bennett-24-yd

At the snap, both receivers on the right run straight down the field.  Gronkowski and Edelman on the left run crosses back to the right side. LeGarrett Blount, aligned to Brady’s right side, drifts out in the flat in an attempt to find some open space. Brady did an ever so slight pump fake, more of a shoulder dip, but it works. The inside linebacker, Vontaze Burfict and the safety covering Bennett bite hard on the play fake.

By the time they stop and recover, Bennett is running free down the field and Brady hits him with a pass at the 45-yard line. Bennett loses his footing but still had time to get up and get another 10-11 yards after the catch. The Pats would score soon after with Gronkowski catching a four-yard score to put the Patriots back on top for good 19-14.

bennett-24-yd2

James White 4-yard Touchdown: White’s second touchdown pass put the Patriots up by two scores and really put Cincinnati under pressure in the pivotal second half. Once the Hightower safety and Gronk touchdown put the team ahead, the momentum completely flipped and the Patriots began to totally take over the game.

The Patriots held Cincinnati to a three-and-out with three straight incompletions after the Gronk score. They took over with a chance to open things up and Brady immediately hit Gronkowski with a huge 38-yard pass and run that set them up.

On the White score, the Patriots are lined up with the Trips left again but this time Bennett is in the slot. Gronkowski is again inline on the right side just as in the previous formation for White’s early touchdown.

james-white-4yd-td

The Bengals go with their front four and have the five defenders aligned at the goal line with a deep safety in the middle. Karlos Dansby, (circled) is in the middle of the formation. At the snap, Gronkowski takes his defender (Kirkpatrick), deep into the end zone. The nearest linebacker Burfict comes on a blitz and is picked up inside.

White flairs out into the flat and Dansby has a tremendous amount of territory to make up and he is not going to get there in time. White has another easy touchdown and it was just another well-designed play by McDaniels and executed by Brady and White.

james-white-4yd-td2

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About Steve Balestrieri

A former US Army Special Forces NCO and Officer, Steve has been following the Patriots since their days at Fenway Park. Steve has worked in the film industry and wrote as an Military Editor at SpecialOperations.com, 1945.com as a reporter for the Millbury Daily Voice, Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, and the Grafton News. He's also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


Tags: 2016 Patriots season Andy Dalton Bill Belichick Brandon LaFell Cincinnati Bengals Danny Amendola Dont'a Hightower Jabaal Sheard Jimmy Garoppolo Julian Edelman karlos dansby LaGarrette Blount Malcolm Butler New England Patriots Patriots Patriots edge rushers Rob Gronkowski Rob Ninkovich Tom Brady Trey Flowers Vontaze Burfict

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