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Monday, December 22, 2008
Cassel racks up serious YAC in the snow


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Matt Cassel faced yet another situation he never before had encountered and conquered it.

Cassel

Cassel wasn't flustered by the snow and bluster in Gillette Stadium and helped the New England Patriots dominate the Arizona Cardinals, 47-7.

"Anytime you can go out there and put together a good performance and the elements were what they were and playing in the snow, it's a lot of fun," Cassel said. "It kind of takes you back to your childhood days."

Really? Lot of snow in Northridge, Calif., is there?

Cassel must've been referring to how his teammates felt. Wes Welker made a snow angel after finishing off one of Cassel's three catch-and-run touchdown tosses.

"I've never played in snow before, so it was a first for me," Cassel admitted. "But it actually was a lot of fun."


Cassel amassed 345 yards and a 116.1 passer rating. He has thrown for at least three touchdowns and has posted a rating of 103.4 or higher four times in the past six games.

Matt Cassel by Distance

CompAttYdsTDIntRating
Behind Line 7 10 161 2 0 152.1
1-10 Yards 7 14 67 1 0 87.5
11-20 Yards 6 9 117 0 0 109.7
21+ Yards 0 3 0 0 0 39.6

But Cassel doesn't deserve all the credit for his gaudy numbers in the snow.

The Patriots capitalized on the limited traction to complete quick passes that turned into long gains.

"We had an emphasis all week about run after catch," Cassel said, "because we knew the elements would be as such that we know what we're doing. They don't. So we have the advantage."

Video analysis by Tobin Petitpas of ESPN Stats and Analysis found that Cassel completed 7 of 10 attempts behind the line of scrimmage, and those plays went for 161 yards. Only six of Cassel's 20 completions traveled beyond 10 yards in the air.

Patriots Receivers After the Catch

MossEvansMorrisFaulkWelkerGaffney
Thrown to 8 1 3 5 10 7
Complete 2 1 2 3 7 5
Yards 87 28 45 27 68 90
TD 1 0 0 1 1 0
YAC 77 24 55 30 37 21

Cassel's receivers generated 244 yards after catches. Randy Moss dashed for 77 yards on one touchdown (he caught it 1 yard behind the line) and Sammy Morris for 55 yards on two short pitches.

"What you do tell the players in these types of conditions is that there are quite a few big plays to be had on a field like this," Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. "You can take a short gain and make a huge play out of it.

"We talked to them about catch-and-run plays on this kind of a surface. Our guys did a good job of keeping their feet and doing something with the ball after they had it."