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Thursday, December 22, 2011
X's & O's: Mankins' excellence

By Mike Reiss

For those with a thrist for more X's and O's talk, Bill Belichick's weekly breakdown of successful plays after a victory is worthy of the time investment. This week's "Belichick Breakdown" on Patriots.com (link here) highlights some big running plays in the victory over the Broncos.

On Danny Woodhead's 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Belichick singles out left guard Logan Mankins.

"Taking a look at it from the end zone, you can really get an appreciation of Logan Mankins here, of just how good Logan is," Belichick says. "He comes up and chips the nose and pushes him back with [center Ryan] Wendell, and now gets up on D.J. Williams there on the second level, and kind of skates with him, turns him out."

Belichick also credits Woodhead with a nice job of setting the block up, then cutting back underneath.

Other plays in the breakdown:

1. Aaron Hernandez 16-yard run. The third-and-2 play in the second quarter comes with Tom Brady in the shotgun and Hernandez lined up to his right. Hernandez gets the ball coming to his left and he gets around the end for a 16-yard gain. Belichick spotlights the crack block of motioning tight end Rob Gronkowski, which was a key in the play producing big results. Left tackle Matt Light also delivers an important block.

2. Stevan Ridley 24-yard run. This play, on first-and-10 from the New England 28, is made possible by a good seal block from Mankins and strong running from Ridley. Again, a nice block by Mankins.

3. Hernandez 22-yard catch. On the Patriots' final touchdown drive, Belichick goes over Hernandez' 22-yard catch-and-run on second-and-14. He shows how Hernandez and Gronkowski line up together, on the same side of Woodhead, so they're all set together. That bunching seems to create a conflict for the Broncos' defense and Hernandez is uncovered underneath. He does some solid work after the catch. Belichick also takes the time to note the solid blocking of tackles Matt Light and Nate Solder.