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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Patriots All-22: How Brady to Thompkins Stunned the Saints

With 1:33 left in the 4th Quarter, Tom Brady and the Patriots trailed the New Orleans Saints 27-23. Trailing by 4 and with no timeouts, it was touchdown or bust. 

Brady went for 5 for 7 with 4 first downs on the final drive. After picking up a first down with Austin Collie, he spiked the ball at the 17 yard line. Seven seconds remained on the clock. 

They would have two shots at the endzone; Brady only needed one.

Patriots line up in 3WR-1TE-1RB formation.
The Patriots came out in a typical 3WR-1TE shotgun formation: Thompkins, Collie, Hoomanawanui and Dobson lined up as receivers, while Bolden lined up in the backfield.

The 3WR & 1TE ran "Four Verticals" (with no timeouts, there wasn't much choice). Bolden chipped and then released for an out.

Tom Brady scans the defensive coverage.
Brady quickly assessed that the defense was running a "Two Deep Man Under" meaning Cover 2 over the top with each receiver facing man coverage underneath. 

Cover 2 can be exploited by attacking where the safeties can't get to quickly. In this case, the back corner of the endzone. However, the WR still needs to beat his man in a short field.

Brady launches touch pass to back corner of endzone before Thompkins gets open.
Brady's pre-snap read was correct. The safety froze on Collie's pattern from the slot and had no chance at helping assist the deep corner.

Rookie Kenbrell Thompkins is raw but can beat just about anyone in man coverage. Defensive Back Jabari Greer let Thompkins get a step behind him, and Brady's ball was placed perfectly for Thompkins to jump up and grab.

Kenbrell Thompkins jumps over cornerback for game-winning TD catch.
This play, like the rest of the drive before it, was surgical and precise. Of course, it didn't hurt that the Saints were playing a much softer defense then they had the rest of the game.

Can the Patriots build off of this and create more drives just like it?

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