Student assistant Mike Rodak takes a look at the television copy of Thursday’s game against the Lions and offers some of his second-quarter observations:
1. The Patriots began their initial second-quarter drive, which went three-and-out, on a negative rush by RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis. On the play, RG Dan Connolly pulled in order to block the play-side OLB, while a misdirection by Brady and a chip by C Dan Koppen were designed to give RT Sebastian Vollmer time to get inside on DT Ndamukong Suh. However, Koppen only gave a quick chip and then went on to the back-side OLB, allowing Suh to get inside on Vollmer and stop Green-Ellis in the backfield.
2. The Patriots stayed in their nickel package for most of the Lions’ second-quarter touchdown drive, with LB Gary Guyton in for LB Brandon Spikes. The Lions reached the red zone on an 11-yard run by RB Maurice Morris, with LG Rob Sims pulling and knocking Guyton out of the running lane. A normally aggressive S Patrick Chung, lined up in the play-side slot over WR Nate Burleson, stayed at home on this run, and had his legs taken out by Burleson.
3. The dropped pass by WR Brandon Tate late in the second quarter came on one of the few times the Patriots tried to work the deep part of the field in the first half. The Lions were playing both safeties only 10 yards off the line, and this play was no different; SS Amari Spievey came down on TE Rob Gronkowski on an outside route, with Tate easily beating CB Alphonso Smith to the open, inside part of the field.
4. Even without a top-notch running game, the Patriots have been able to make good use of the play-action recently, with two straight plays late in the second quarter netting first downs off the play-action. The first came on a third-and-1, with CB Chris Houston releasing TE Aaron Hernandez to play the run, leaving him open. On the next play, Brady drew all three linebackers in off the play fake, finding WR Wes Welker on a crossing pattern behind them.
5. The Patriots also made good use of the draw play on their second-quarter touchdown drive, including the 15-yard Green-Ellis run that ended it. Not only were the Patriots able to turn around the Lions rushers on the play, but also caught an over-aggressive FS Louis Delmas behind the run as he tried to come up to make the stop. Earlier on the drive, a draw to RB Danny Woodhead with solid second-level blocks by Koppen and FB Sammy Morris was stopped short of a first down because of a solid tackle by Spievey.