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Monday, November 7, 2011
Picked-up pieces from 3rd quarter review

By Mike Rodak

Taking a look at the television copy of Sunday's game against the Giants and offering some third quarter observations:

1) Perhaps QB Tom Brady's worst decision of the game came on his second interception, early in the third quarter. On the play, Brady's first read was to his right, WR Wes Welker, who was bracketed low by CB Corey Webster and S Antrel Rolle. He then turned to his left and almost immediately released the ball to TE Rob Gronkowski, on a seam pattern. Not only was S Deon Grant in position to undercut the route and make the interception, but LB Michael Boley almost tipped the pass before it got to Grant, and Brady couldn't have lofted the throw, as S Kenny Phillips was in a deep zone. Brady's best option was to his far left, WR Chad Ochocinco, who was sitting under soft coverage from CB Aaron Ross, and would have been in position for a first down.

2) Just as on the first play of the game, CB Devin McCourty bit on a Giants play action on an 18-yard Victor Cruz reception. After recovering, McCourty trailed Cruz by about two steps, but as Cruz slowed up going across the middle, McCourty over-ran his route, with Cruz breaking back towards the sideline. S Patrick Chung had similar problems just behind the route, allowing for Cruz's catch. On the next play, TE Jake Ballard picked up 30 yards after getting a free release up the seam. S James Ihedigbo was shadowing Ballard from the outside part of the field, expecting a flattened pattern, but had to give chase when Ballard broke towards the deep middle. Chung was on the far sideline and was also not in position to make a play, but this was Ihedigbo's responsibility.

3) Play design and/or selection looked to be a problem on Brady's third quarter fumble. On third-and-10, the Giants had three down linemen, and another 4-5 defenders standing just behind the line, disguising what became a six-man blitz. Gronkowski and TE Aaron Hernandez were off the right side of the line, protecting Brady from DE Justin Tuck, but with three receivers split wide left, Brady had no running back for blitz pickup on his blind side. In addition, the three receivers all had routes that didn't break until at least 7-8 yards, giving Brady no outlet receiver in case of pressure. The pressure came from Boley off his blind side, knocking the ball away as Brady tried to throw deep. It was a situation to avoid in the first place, but one that could have been handled better.

4) DT Albert Haynesworth getting blocked out by LG David Diehl on Brandon Jacobs' 10-yard touchdown run may have been noticeable, but it wasn't the only breakdown in the run defense. LB Rob Ninkovich, who jammed Ballard at the line, tried to cut upfield and circle around Ballard's block, effectively taking himself out of the play. With LB Gary Guyton engaging FB Bear Pascoe in the 'A' gap, Ninkovich not staying inside helped open the 'B' gap for Jacobs. The last line of defense was S Patrick Chung, who couldn't get past the 1-yard line before getting swallowed up on a Cruz block.

5) CB Kyle Arrington's end zone interception of QB Eli Manning saved McCourty from a would-be touchdown catch by WR Mario Manningham. McCourty jammed Manningham at the line, but then was two steps behind as Manningham curled towards the far pylon. Arrington came up to cover Ballard at the goal line, but peeled off as Manning lofted the pass a bit too much towards the corner. It was an acrobatic snag by Arrington of what essentially became a jump ball from Manning.