Student assistant Mike Rodak takes a look at the television copy of Sunday’s game against the Ravens and offers some of his overtime observations:
1. The Patriots’ decision to use ILB Dane Fletcher in their sub package late in the game to spy Ravens RB Ray Rice continued to pay dividends early in overtime. Having Fletcher on Rice freed up the other linebackers in the sub package, Jerod Mayo and Gary Guyton, to protect the middle of the field. On third-and-5, Ravens QB Joe Flacco decided to roll out of the pocket after not finding a receiver downfield. Guyton played it well, moving up to protect against the scramble while also staying between Flacco and intended receiver Anquan Boldin. Meanwhile, Mayo and CB Kyle Arrington combined to keep Boldin from finding open field and potentially a first down.
2. One of the few negative plays for DE Vince Wilfork in the game came on the first play of the Ravens’ second drive of overtime. On the play, Wilfork was driven downfield and sealed inside by LT Michael Oher and LG Ben Grubbs. The run went to RB Ray Rice on a delayed draw (after a Flacco pump fake), meaning that OLB Rob Ninkovich had already dropped into a short zone. However, Ninkovich recovered well and when he got his eyes back upfield was able to read the run, square up on Rice, and make the tackle before Rice could get the first down.
3. Two plays later, Flacco went to WR Derrick Mason on a sideline pattern, with Arrington in man-coverage. Arrington was aggressive and broke in front of Mason in an attempt to break-up the pass, but it was still completed and Arrington had to chase down Mason from behind. With only safety Brandon Meriweather behind him, the smarter play from Arrington probably would have been to play it safe and keep Mason from getting the yards after the catch. Had Mason broken free, the game would have been over. However, it is still hard to fault Arrington for trying to make a play knowing the Ravens had to be kept out of field-goal range.