How a nuance in route running freed up Martellus Bennett for TD catch

On this touchdown catch against the Jets, TE Martellus Bennett "comes down and makes a little stutter move at the goal line to kind of freeze the coverage," coach Bill Belichick pointed out in his weekly breakdown of key plays. EPA/MATT CAMPBELL

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For those hoping to learn more about the X’s and O’s of football, Bill Belichick’s weekly breakdown of key plays from victories can be a good place to start.

This week, one area Belichick highlighted was a nuance in route-running from tight end Martellus Bennett that helped produce Bennett's 5-yard touchdown catch in Saturday’s 41-3 victory over the New York Jets.

The Patriots were in a “four-open” set and the Jets had a 3-on-2 situation to the offensive right, with a “semi-double coverage” on Bennett in the offensive left “flex” position. The “semi-double coverage” came in the form of safety Rontez Miles lined up across from Bennett, with linebacker Darron Lee to the inside part of the field.

“Marty comes down and makes a little stutter move at the goal line to kind of freeze the coverage,” Belichick pointed out. “What defensive backs are taught to do here is not let the receiver catch the ball in front of them on the goal-line, and make sure they are ready to take [that] pattern away.

“Marty is able to split them and Tom [Brady] makes a good throw -- high on the end line, where only Bennett can go up and get it. Marty is long [6-foot-6], he has great reach, and he’s able to pull it in for the touchdown. A well-executed play by Bennett and Brady.”

Other plays Belichick spotlighted:

  • Linebacker Elandon Roberts' forced fumble early in the second quarter that was recovered by cornerback Malcolm Butler. Roberts burst through the line of scrimmage so decisively that fullback/tight end Brandon Bostick simply missed him. “Elandon hits it so fast, he’s able to undercut the block and make great contact on the ball,” Belichick said, pointing out that Butler, who was on a corner blitz, was there to scoop up the loose football.

  • Cornerback Eric Rowe's second-quarter interception while matched up against receiver Brandon Marshall. At the time of the interception, it was pointed out that Rowe couldn’t have played his technique any better, which is something that Belichick echoed as well. The Patriots shifted from a two-high safety look to a single-high safety look as the Jets motioned right to left, with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick taking a shot to Marshall deep down the left sideline. “Very well played by Rowe -- having good position, looks back for the ball, and was able to go up and use his length and jump into the receiver and high-point the ball and make a good catch with Marshall hanging on him,” Belichick said.

  • Running back James White's 25-yard touchdown catch against a Jets defensive zone coverage that included some man-to-man principles in it (specifically, the Jets matched an over and post route). White’s flag pattern had linebacker David Harris drifting to the outside of him, which allowed White to get behind him and stack him. The only thing left was for Brady to deliver an accurate ball. Belichick highlighted a “scissors concept” with the Patriots’ two slot receivers, with White the third route complementing that. “Real great job by Josh McDaniels and the offensive staff game-planning,” Belichick said.