Student assistant Mike Rodak takes a look at the television copy of Thursday night’s preseason game against the Falcons and offers some of his third-quarter observations:
1. On the second play of the third quarter, rookie LG Ted Larsen was blown off the spot by DT Trey Lewis. The obstruction in the backfield slowed pulling LT Mark LeVoir, who ended up behind the ball carrier, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Add in two false-start penalties and Larsen had an underwhelming night in Atlanta.
2. On a third-and-9 situation early in the third quarter, Patriots QB Brian Hoyer came under pressure when RT Thomas Welch was easily beaten inside by DE Lawrence Sidbury. Despite the immediate pressure, Hoyer was still able to get off an accurate pass to RB Sammy Morris, who had two defenders in coverage on a sideline route out of the backfield. Morris looked to have lost the ball in the dome lights, as the pass bounced off Morris’ helmet.
3. The Patriots’ only 7-man pass rush of the game came on a third-and-5 situation early in the quarter. Safety Brandon McGowan was able to come in unblocked, pressuring Falcons QB John Parker Wilson into an errant throw and a near interception by CB Terrence Wheatley.
4. On their second drive of the third quarter, the Patriots began to pick up rhythm, using two- and three-tight end sets and a power running game to move into Falcons territory. In another advantage of having rookie TE Aaron Hernandez, the power running game was able to be translated in a play-action passing game. On one such play, Hernandez beat a linebacker on an intermediate crossing pattern for a 21-yard gain, following five straight runs.
5. Another negative yardage play in the running game came immediately after Hernandez’ reception. This time, Larsen was beaten outside by Lewis, who wrapped up Green-Ellis in the backfield.
6. Patriots RB Sammy Morris’ 20-yard touchdown run was sprung on key downfield blocks by WRs Sam Aiken and Brandon Tate, while Morris also showed some speed, turning the corner to beat two Falcons defensive backs.
7. One of the best individual efforts of the night came on a third-and-13 play in the third quarter. Facing pressure, Patriots QB Brian Hoyer checked down to WR Brandon Tate on a short sideline pattern. Tate, who caught the pass moving away from the first-down marker, avoided the Falcons player in coverage, CB Gabe Derricks, to give himself a chance. Then, without any help from blockers, Tate put on a quick burst of speed, splitting four Falcons defenders to pick up the first down.
8. On a third-and-9 play late in the third quarter, a draw by Green-Ellis resulted in another loss of yardage for the running game on the night. On the play, center Ryan Wendell was blown off the ball by Lewis at the snap, while LeVoir was beaten inside by LE Kroy Biermann.