Tim Wright pulled in his fourth touchdown catch of the season from Tom Brady in the New England Patriots 42-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Mark Schofield looks at the Optimum Offense Patriots play of the week.
With their team out to a four-point halftime lead on the road against a tough conference opponent, one would expect Patriots fans to be pleased. Instead, the mood on Twitter and various message boards was sour. Especially after quarterback Tom Brady threw two interceptions in the first half, the second coming on a horrible decision on 3rd and 1 that led to a Colts touchdown with under a minute left in the half. Bill Belichick instructed his offense to kneel on the football with 55 seconds remaining and a full complement of time-outs, sending a clear message: We need better.
Whatever was said at halftime worked. Brady and his teammates ripped off an 8-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a 2-yard touchdown reception from Tim Wright. The short scoring play combined design and execution for a tremendous result for New England.
Wright initially lines up in a wing outside Rob Gronkowski to the left, but he comes in motion to the other side of the field. Greg Toler serves as the safety on this snap and follows him across the formation:
The Patriots fake the halfback lead play to the right side. Look at the depth of the linebackers:
The defense does not fall for the run fake and the linebackers and defensive backs are in good position to deal with play-action. Gronkowski and Michael Hoomanawanui run shallow crossing routes that occupy the linebackers. Meanwhile Wright is running a corner route toward the right rear pylon and Toler is closing in:
The safety cuts underneath the TE expecting a hard throw from Brady:
But the QB drops in an arching toss to Wright for the TD:
From another angle you can see how Brady dropped the throw into the back corner of the end zone:
On a night when the rookie running back exploded for 199 yards on 38 carries and 4 touchdowns, his best play may have been stuffing Walden in the backfield, giving his QB just a few more seconds to deliver a perfect pass.
Design and execution on this play are perfect. The shallow crossing routes from Gronkowski and Hoomanawanui occupy the linebackers and two defensive backs, leaving Wright isolated on Toler. Walden is unblocked but Gray astutely picks him up in pass protection. Finally, as Toler cuts underneath the route, Tom Brady drops a well-placed rainbow into Wright’s waiting arms. The touchdown extended New England’s lead to 21-10, and the Patriots never looked back.
All video and images courtesy the NFL and NBC Sports.
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.