Ben Volin looked at the video footage to break down some of the key plays from the Patriots’ Week 1 win at Buffalo.
1. Robert Woods’ 18-yard touchdown: How did it happen?
The Bills drew to within 17-14 right before halftime when EJ Manuel hit Robert Woods for an 18-yard touchdown. How did Woods get so wide open?
Woods is lined up at the bottom of the formation, next to tight end Scott Chandler, who will run deep down the seam and Stevie Johnson, who will run a short out pattern. The Patriots are showing zone coverage, and Woods is going to run a deep post to the corner of the end zone.
The problem appears to be a miscommunication between cornerbacks Aqib Talib (31), Kyle Arrington (25) and safety Steve Gregory (28). Both Talib and Arrington sit on the flat route, while Gregory sticks with Chandler down the middle. Gregory likely expected Talib to play deep zone coverage, while Talib believed he had safety help over the top.
And it was an easy pitch-and-catch from E.J. Manuel to Woods for the touchdown, both the first of their young careers.
2. Defending the Patriots: Bills effective with use of zone blitz
The Bills sacked Tom Brady twice and kept the Patriots’ passing game in check with an effective use of zone blitzing. They often rushed only four or five after showing a big blitz before the snap, but did a good job of disguising where the pressure was coming from.
Here we see big 331-pound defensive tackle Marcell Dareus dropping back into coverage and swatting down one of Brady’s passes.
Here we have every offensive line coach’s worst nightmare: An offensive lineman standing around with no one to block (Logan Mankins, 70) while a defender comes flying in untouched for the sack safety (Da’Norris Searcy).
Dareus, again, drops back and plays the role of “QB spy.” This time, Brady sees a big hole left to scramble toward the end zone, but Dareus closes it up quickly and stops him for no gain.
3. Throw of the Day: Brady to Edelman for a 9-yard touchdown
Brady threw a 9-yard laser to Julian Edelman for the first touchdown of the season. But it would have been an incompletion if not for a perfect throw from Brady, who never ceases to amaze with his pinpoint accuracy.
Here, Edelman is being absolutely blanketed by safety Jim Leonhard.
But Brady throws it perfectly just behind Edelman, where only he can get it. Leonhard overruns the throws.
Brady’s pass was just out of the reach of linebacker Kiko Alonzo.