Student assistant Mike Rodak takes a look at the television copy of Sunday’s game against the Bills and offers some of his second-quarter observations:
1. Patriots QB Tom Brady’s first 8-yard touchdown pass to TE Rob Gronkowski came on a blitz by Bills S Donte Whitner and OLB Arthur Moats. In the backfield, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a solid pickup of Whitner’s blitz, while Gronkowski chipped Moats at the line before releasing to the flat. It was a well-timed play, with Brady reading the blitz from Moats well and taking advantage of it.
2. After allowing nine sacks in their past their previous three games, the Patriots’ offensive line had a stellar day in pass protection against the Bills. One example came on a third-and-7 play in the second quarter, when Brady was able to convert the first down with a 10-yard pass to WR Deion Branch. The play would lead to a Shayne Graham field goal, widening their lead going into halftime.
3. The Bills have varied their defensive fronts as the season has progressed, and Sunday’s game was no different. While sticking mainly to four-man lines in the game, the Bills did go back to their 3-4 base package on a second-down BenJarvus Green-Ellis run in the second quarter, using rookies DE Alex Carrington and NT Torell Troup for one of the few times in the game, instead of 4-3 DTs Kyle Williams and Marcus Stroud. The technique simply wasn’t there for the Bills in the scheme, with ILBs Paul Posluszny and Akin Ayodele struggling on the play. OLB Pierre Woods played the run well, but a solid block from TE Alge Crumpler helped open the hole for a 15-yard Green-Ellis gain.
4. Crumpler may have caught his first touchdown pass of the season late in the first half, but it could have easily came two plays later on an incomplete pass to Branch. On the play, Brady locked in on the left side and Branch, running a short inside pattern at the goal line. On the right side, WR Wes Welker motioned inside and then sat in an underneath route, drawing CB Terrence McGee, Whitner, and Posluszny on the play, leaving Crumpler wide open in the end zone.