The Patriots opened the second half with a 14-play, 97-yard touchdown drive, led by quarterback Brian Hoyer, that turned out to be the only score of the Patriots' 7-6 win over the Saints on Thursday night.
Here's a look at some key plays from the series, with a focus on second-year running back Shane Vereen, who ran 7 times for 63 yards on the drive:
2nd-and-10, NE 3: With the Patriots backed up against their own end zone, Saints DT Akiem Hicks threatened to stop the play in the backfield, after stunting around a block by C Ryan Wendell. However, Vereen broke free from Hicks and picked up 7 yards before backside blocking broke down.
1st-and-10, NE 30: Off the play action, QB Brian Hoyer delivered a well-thrown pass to WR Britt Davis on a post pattern, underneath coverage from CB Cord Parks. As the throw was coming in, Davis appeared to lose it against the background of the crowd, ducking his head for a second as if the pass was going to hit him in the helmet. He appeared to find the ball again at the last second, but it bounced off his chest, negating what would have been about a 25-yard gain.
2nd-and-10, NE 30: The best all-around play of the drive, especially from a blocking standpoint. The Saints were in their dime package (6 defensive backs), even with only three wide receivers on the field. On a draw play, Wendell was able to leverage DT Remi Ayodele to the ground at the point of attack, with LT Nick McDonald also clearing S Isa Abdul-Quddus out of the way. Vereen didn't hesitate once he saw the hole, and picked up 18 yards on the play.
1st-and-10, NE 48: The Patriots remained in their 3 WR, 1 TE personnel, while the Saints also stayed in their dime look. On a Vereen run up the middle, Abdul-Quddus was able to evade McDonald, while S Jerico Nelson also came down into the box and pursued off the edge. Vereen couldn't break free from this backside pressure, gaining 4 yards on the play. Against a lighter defense (six defense backs), this is where Vereen could use more power in his running style to stretch this into a 5, 6, or 7-yard gain.
1st-and-10, NO 41: With the Saints back in their base 4-3 defense (the Patriots were in 2 WR, 1 TE), Vereen had his most impressive run of the night. On another draw run, Vereen was able to beat Parks on the edge, then evade Nelson, leading to a 14-yard gain. This is the open-field elusiveness Vereen was billed as having coming out of the draft.
2nd-and-10, NO 27: This was a well-executed inside trap play, with Hicks penetrating into the backfield, but a well-timed block by LG Donald Thomas on Hicks and an inside seal by TE Alex Silvestro on DE Braylon Broughton allowed Vereen to weave his way to open field, for a 10-yard gain.