Starting 0-7 with two interceptions is surprising, given the usual high success rate for Tom Brady play action passes. In the second half Brady improved, completing four of five attempts including a touchdown, but he finished the night with a sub-40 quarterback ranking on play action passes. Mark Schofield looked at Brady’s bad first interception, the ugly second INT, and now reviews the good ‒ a key play early in the 4th quarter.
The most productive Patriots play-action pass was Tom Brady’s 2-yard touchdown toss to Tim Wright. However, the quarterback’s best throw on play-action Sunday night was this early 4th-quarter play. New England faces 2nd and 10 on their own 20-yard line and the QB is under center with 21 personnel on the field. Wide receivers Julian Edelman and Brian Tyms align in an inverted slot to the right side of the formation, with Tyms on the outside (circled in white). Indianapolis has their nickel defense in the game showing Cover 3:
Tyms motions toward the football and the Patriots have a stack-slot look at the snap. Cornerback Greg Toler (#28) trails Tyms inside:
Tyms executes a vertical release and cornerback Vontae Davis (#21) stays with the WR in man coverage. The rest of the secondary drops into Cover 3. Safety Sergio Brown (circled in black) is responsible for the deep middle. His hips are turned in anticipation of a deep post from Tyms:
The WR breaks off the post towards the corner. Davis and Brown bracket Tyms with the CB underneath the receiver. On the outside, Edelman is making his cut as Brady stares in his direction:
Edelman creates separation from Toler with an aggressive in-and-out move and the CB is on the turf as Brady releases the football:
From the end zone view watch Edelman’s route. He utilizes an outside release that forces Toler and Davis to switch responsibilities. The CB stays in his back pedal as he drops, and when Edelman fakes the inside cut the two players hand-check and Toler falls to the turf. Brady does a great job in the pocket on this play, sliding his feet away from interior pressure buying more time for Edelman’s outside move. The sideline view shows how each aspect of the play adds up to a 14-yard gain for New England:
You can be the greatest thrower of the football in the world, but without pass protection and solid decision-making you will not become a great NFL quarterback. The three plays reviewed ‒ the Good, the Bad and the Ugly ‒ illustrate that notion quite clearly. Brady might be the greatest ever and even he makes mistakes. Of course, he also learns from those mistakes, as Tom Brady play action passes improved from 0-for-7 and two interceptions to 4-for-5 with a touchdown in the second half as the Patriots won the game easily.
All video and images courtesy NFL.com and NFL Game Rewind.
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.