X's & O's: Play-action & run game

For those with an interest in X’s and O’s, Bill Belichick’s weekly breakdown of top plays after a victory, on Patriots.com, is a worthy time investment. This week’s breakdown is posted and two of the team’s touchdowns against the Texans are dissected.

1. Brandon Lloyd’s 37-yard first-quarter score on play-action. Belichick highlights the play-action aspect of this play by writing the letters “PA” on the screen and noting the hard run fake to the right side out of the team’s three-tight end package. “The key to this play is the run-action, just selling the running game and you can see how everyone is blocking aggressively,” Belichick says. “That leaves you vulnerable a little bit if they don’t take the run fake that they could have a guy rushing the passer. But there’s nothing really telling the defense to rush here.” Belichick then notes the linemen being able to get back into position to pass protect and create a nice pocket, while Lloyd’s route initially looked like it might be a crack block. Perfect execution in the play-action game. “There’s no way you can just drop back and throw a pass and have a guy be this wide open behind the defense. It’s the run-action that really sells the play and gets the secondary to bite up a little bit and gives you that big-play opportunity.”

2. Stevan Ridley’s fourth-quarter 14-yard touchdown run. Belichick calls up Ridley’s TD run, which culminated a 10-play, 68-yard drive to give the Patriots a 42-7 lead, and this play reveals a few things right off the bat. First, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui comes in motion from right to left and traps the defensive tackle. Second, Belichick decided not to pronounce Hoomanawanui’s last name, preferring to go with the simple “Hoo-man.” Nicely played, Bill. That block gets it started, while everyone else has their blocks accounted for, with Ridley making a sharp cut off left tackle Nate Solder's block. “Another play that was very well blocked up front," Belichick says. "Good running by Ridley, but you just can’t say enough about the offensive line and the job they did to open up holes and give the backs good opportunities in the running game.” Also, Belichick points out that receiver Wes Welker shows nice hustle to block the slot.