Spread formations in spotlight

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After working with more compact formations featuring the tight end position in their first two preseason games, the Patriots focused more on their three-receiver package and spread looks against the Rams.

A third-and-2 play in the first quarter seemed to best capture the approach. With the ball at their own 34-yard line, the Patriots called on a three-receiver set of Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Brandon Tate and had quarterback Tom Brady in the shotgun.

One line of thinking is that it could have been a good time to try to pound it on the ground in continuing to establish a physical identity. Instead, the Patriots were in the passing formation -- it seemed like they were determined to work on the passing game in this game -- and the result was a 13-yard sack of Brady.

On the flip side, the first-unit two-minute/no-huddle offense moved the ball down the field nicely against the Rams' second-unit defense in the late third quarter/early fourth quarter.

3 WR/1 TE/1 RB -- 23 of 39

2 WR/2 TE/1 RB -- 13 of 39

1 WR/2 TE/1 FB/1 RB -- 1 of 39

3 WR/2 RB -- 1 of 39

1 WR/3 TE/1 RB -- 1 of 39