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Xs & Os: Wilfork, defense & Gronk

For those with an interest in Xs and Os, Bill Belichick's weekly breakdown of plays after a victory is a solid time investment. The "Belichick Breakdown" is a weekly feature on Patriots.com (link here), with the coach certainly in his element as he dissects why some plays worked.

As for what Belichick highlighted from last Sunday's win over the Redskins ...

1. Solid special teams play. Belichick says a key part of the game-plan was keeping returner Brandon Banks in check, and he opens the segment focusing on kickoff coverage, pointing out good lane discipline (especially on the back side with Sergio Brown and Tracy White). Belichick also shows Zoltan Mesko's clutch high-arcing punt, which was kept in play by Matthew Slater (who set the "picket fence") and downed by Sergio Brown to set up a strip sack and score. "That was a huge play for us in the game," Belichick says.

2. Wilfork's exemplary effort. Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork showed solid awareness to pounce on the loose football for a touchdown, and Belichick goes through the play from two angles. A review of the tape shows that Wilfork not only recovered the fumble, he previously leveled the running back who was the check-down option, which contributed to Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman holding on to the ball longer than he wanted. That led to a strip sack by Andre Carter.

3. Mayo's game-ending interception. Belichick points out that the Redskins were running a double move, or what the Patriots call a "shake" route, but it's well defended on the play in which Jerod Mayo snared a game-ending interception. With Donte Stallworth clearing out and Santana Moss coming underneath, linebacker Tracy White picks up Moss and hits him just about as the ball is arriving and tips it in the air. Mayo finishes it off.

4. Gronkowski's touchdowns and big plays. Belichick talks to the fans. "A lot of fans talked this week about Gronkowski's plays and asking 'Were they all the same play?' The answer is no," Belichick says, before rolling the footage and dissecting some of Gronkowski's fine work. Belichick's reaction after Gronkowski spikes the ball following his first touchdown is humorous. As for Gronkowski's big day, which included a variety of catches, Belichick says it shows "some of the versatility he has for us in the passing game."