Patriots replay: Breaking down week 4
Play 1: LeGarrette Blount's 47-yard touchdown run: How'd it happen?
The Patriots' offensive line was dominant all day, and nowhere was that more evident than on Blount's touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, which was made possibly by three key blocks.
On first-and-10 from the Atlanta 47, the Patriots come out in a Strong-I formation while the Falcons show a standard seven-man front.
Blount is going to run behind left guard. The first key block is 63, Dan Connolly, sealing off the linebacker. To the right of Connolly is the other key block, with Nate Solder and Logan Mankins double-teaming the defensive end.
Julian Edelman provides the third key block, securing the second level for Blount by sealing off the cornerback.
And then it's off to the races for Blount, who does an impressive job of out-racing the Falcons' secondary to the pylon.
Play 2: Patriots defense: How'd they slow down the Falcons?
TThe Patriots did allow 457 total yards, but only 23 points. How'd they keep the Falcons out of the end zone (until the end)?
The Patriots often played a Cover 2 man defense, with the corners matching up man-to-man on the receivers and the two safeties, Devin McCourty (bottom) and Steve Gregory, playing deep zones. Jacquizz Rodgers had a 5-yard run on this play, and the Falcons should have had more success running the ball against the Pats' soft defensive front, but only ran the ball 15 times compared to 56 pass plays.
Not only did the safeties play deep, but they generally were shadowing specific players -- Gregory on Tony Gonzalez, and McCourty on Julio Jones. The tactic mostly prevented Gonzalez and Jones breaking off big plays -- most of Gonzalez's 12 catches were underneath the safety coverage -- but it also left Roddy White in 1-on-1 coverage. Matt Ryan simply doesn't see him streaking open on this play.
Again, the Patriots take away the deep pass, but the scheme leaves the flats wide open, and Ryan hits Harry Douglas for a modest gain on this play.
Play 3: Offensive line makes Brady's job easy
Tom Brady had his first 300-yard game of the season, and must of the credit belongs to the offensive line, which was equally dominant in run and pass blocking:
Pretty easy to find FB James Develin in the flat for 15 yards when you have this much space to throw.
No hands in Brady's face, and no defensive linemen clogging his passing lanes.
Any quarterback in the league can hit this 34-yard pass to Julian Edelman with this much time and space to throw.