Pats Vs. Houston

2nd Quarter

Train Kept A-Rollin'.


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Houston comes out in a Strong formation. Pats match up in a 3-4 with a Safety up in the box, as a Strong formation is a running formation. It is very well blocked, and Grimes runs through the line untouched. McCourty saves the day at the 43. That was a huge play. Grimes got 37-yards on that play. Then they ran Grimes in a Wildcat. Brown has a great swim move outside. He forces Grimes to cut inside, and gets both hands on his shirt, but can't hold on. Hicks dives in from the side and knocks his block off. 2nd and 6 with Houston in a Trips-right Strong shotgun. Pats match up in a 3-4, which is odd against a 4-Wide shotgun. Mayo get pressure up the middle on a Blitz, but then gets stuffed. Hoyer has time to hit Shorts who is being covered by Collins in the Box. He cuts up field for a first. Chung makes the tackle.

1st and 10, and Houston comes out in the Wildcat again. Pats stay 3-4 with both Safeties up by the magic yellow line. The Pats have all three D-linemen inside the OGs, with Short in at QB. Hoyer stands alone outside on the blindside. Short keeps it. Ryan was lined up on the slot WR, and Shorts runs right at him. He sets the edge with some impressive leverage, and forces him inside with some impressive strength. Then dives at his feet and gets a shoestring tackle to show some impressive toughness. "He works hard in the weight room," BB said about Ryan. "But I'd say he's got good playing strength and plays with good leverage and good pad level. He's I'd say not by any means weak, but I don't think he's going to hold the weight room records either at that position. But he's got good playing strength and good technique." Ryan also forced Short right into Jones and Collins.

2nd and 9, Houston comes out in a Strong formation. Hoyer hands it to Hunt. Hicks burst through the line but misses him. But he got a hand on him enough to slow him down. Mayo swoops in behind him and takes him down. 3rd and 8, Houston in a 4-wide Weak. Pats crowd the line with a 3-2 Dime. The Pats get pressure up the middle again. Hoyer throws deep to Washington. But Butler has perfect coverage. He reaches up to tap the ball, and then takes him out as the ball arrives to force the field goal. Pats-7. Houston-3. Cheap shots-3.

Brady comes out in a Twins-left Singleback, with Gronk on the other side. They pass. Gronk gets a great release, and then slips under the MLB. Brady hits him dragging to the other side of the field. He turns up field for a few more yards, but two defenders are there to shove him out of bounds. 2nd and 4, Pats in a 4-Wide Strong-shotgun. Brady hands it underneath to Blount. He runs behind Tre' and Stork. Tre' did a great job on Wilfork. That allows Blount to pop over the magic yellow line for a First.

1st and 10, Pats in a Singleback. They give it Blount again. He cuts inside of Tre' sealing Wilfork again. Stork takes on the guy on the Nose, and pancakes him. Blount tries to reach Cannon, who is already five yards down field blocking the D-end. He cuts behind Cannon and gets tackled along with Shaq for a nice power run.

It was a Smash. "I thought we competed in the running game," BB said. "I thought we blocked better and Josh and the offensive staff had a couple scheme plays where we were able to create some yardage with a little easier access, but they're a tough group to block. Then we had a couple good runs where backs really didn't have a lot [of space]. LG, Brandon there at the end of the game, they made some plays on their own with good vision or a good cut or broken tackle or whatever it was and did a good job there. I'd say a combination of all those things, but they were hard-fought yards, I'll say that. There wasn't a lot of easy yardage against the Texans in the running game." Blount made a few moves in the backfield then shot up field. But then he goes down. This was the play he injured his hip. Which is a shame because it looked like he was just getting on a roll.

2nd and 4, with the Pats in a slightly shocked Singleback. They run a little play action, and Brady turns and riffles it at Martin. But the ball is high and outside. 3rd and 4, Patriots Formation. Bolden goes in motion right behind Brady. "I think there are a lot of uses for motion on offense," coach McDaniels said. "It's not always in the passing game. There's definitely some things you do to help yourself or create angle or blocking patterns with motion. The running game, you can certainly try to avoid contact at the line of scrimmage by the use of motion. You can force defensive communication if you motion from one side of the formation to another, if you motion from a wider split into a tighter split, there are a lot of things the defense may have to adjust to and talk about. There's maybe later motion that you try to potentially gain an advantage going, whether it's across the formation or into it, away from it. Whatever it may be. Every time somebody on offense moves, somebody on defense has to react. There are times in the game where you want to try to give yourself every opportunity to gain an advantage before the balls snapped if you think motion can help you. There's a lot of different ways to try it, a lot of different things you can use. It can help many times and sometimes it doesn't do much depending on the defenses call that they have played. Hopefully it works a lot more than it doesn't relative to gaining something offensively. We certainly try to do some of that to help in many different ways." They run a Jet-sweep to Bolden.

Bolden runs through an arm right off the start by Clowney. Then he turns up field. He breaks a tackle behind an Amendola block, and then flashes up field again. He leaps inside and over the magic yellow line to make a third defender miss. But Simon leaps into his shoulders and spins him down. 1st and 10 again, Pats come out in a Weak formation. It looks like a Dive. Williams whams Wilfork. Bolden has to hop cut outside as an LB grabs at him. But he breaks that tackle. He gets outside and is finally taken down by three defenders.

That was a great run by Bolden. "Brandon's a talented guy," coach McDaniels said. "He's had a lot of different situations come up during the course of his career here whether through injury or otherwise. He's really done a nice job for us coming in and filling in and he's gone over 100 yards a couple times, he's had some big runs, he's carried the ball in cold, sloppy weather and protected it for us as he's matured and grown in our system. He's a dependable guy. We trust him to blitz pick-up. We trust him to be in the game in those critical situations when you get a lot of different looks from the defense. He studies hard. He's a guy that comes to work and prepares well. There's always been a lot of talent with Brandon and his dependability and his ability to do a lot of different things within our offense has just improved with each year that he's been here. Brandon's a good runner and he does a lot of things that are really valuable to our football team whether it be on offense or in the kicking game. We'll try to certainly do the best thing we can here going forward in terms of how we use him among the rest of our backs." They are going to need Bolden to run that hard for six more games.

2nd and 5, Williams steps back into a Strong formation. He heads up field. Hop cuts to the left and then the right for a few more yards. But the refs call holding on Tre'. 2nd and 16, Pats come out in a Trips-right Weak-shotgun. Amendola is the inside guy on the Trips. He just runs up field a few yards, stops and turns, as everyone is still retreating. Brady never looks at anyone else. He hits Amendola short, and he turns up field for a tough seven. 3rd and 9, Pats come out in a 4-Wide Weak-shotgun. Brady has time. White scooted out of the backfield and then cuts out behind the twin WRs on the Blindside. Brady hits him short. He can't break the tackle to force the punt. Slater catches the bouncing ball at the three. Than the refs call a false start on Houston to cram them to the One and ah-half.

1st and 11 and a half, Pats match up in a 3-3 Nickel. Hoyer hits Hopkins. "He does a lot of things well," BB said. "I'd say it starts with his hands. He has great catching skills and a great catching radius. He's averaging over 15 yards a catch or right at 15 yards a catch, whatever it is for his career. He's had a ton of production, but it's not on two-yard slant routes and stuff like that. He's making plays down the field. He's always open because he's got the ability to catch the ball. Wherever the defender is, if the ball is thrown opposite the defender, he's long enough and good enough to come down with a lot of tough catches. He's long, he's got good playing strength, quickness, can get open, but he goes up and competes for the ball and comes down with it in tight coverage a lot, so like I said, really he's always open because he can come down with the ball. His ball skills and length are exceptional." And the story of the 1st Half is that that 5-yard out is the only catch Hopkins had in the entire 1st Half.

Logan Ryan shut him down in the 1st half. "First of all Logan prepares very well," BB said. "He studies the receivers. He has a good understanding of our defense, and he really works hard at the preparation every week so he has a pretty good jump on what to expect, and he's very well prepared week-in and week-out. Logan has got good strength. He's a good tackler. He can get those backs and bigger receivers on the ground. [He has] good hands, good awareness, and he can play strong on the line of scrimmage. And those types of areas whether it's against bigger guys or getting his hands on smaller guys and kind of knocking them off their route. He does a good job in all those areas." Ryan was awesome in this game.

2nd and 6, Pats come out in a cramped up 3-4, with Chung up in the box as well. Houston blocks the first level well. But Hicks meets him in the hole. Brown, Collins, and Mayo help bring him down. Ninkovich swoops in, rips the ball out, and runs into the Endzone for a non-TD. 3rd and 3, Pats crowd the line in a 4-2 Nickel with all six guys up on the line. But both linebackers drop. Hoyer misfires to force the punt. The Pats had great coverage. Martin makes one guy miss, and then cuts back to make three guys miss for another dynamic punt return over midfield.

Pats come out at the 41, in a Singleback. They run a Dive. Bolden cuts behind a pulling Shaq. "I thought Shaq played one of his better games of the year, for sure," Josh said. "I think he's continued to try to work hard at the things that maybe he wasn't experienced in relative to coming out of the Georgia tech program. I think we're past that now. Shaq's played a lot of football for us this year. He's seen a lot of different things and I think a lot of those things are coming back to help him now that he's got some experience and some exposure to different schemes and different ways people play. Shaq works extremely hard with the rest of our young group there that's really studying hard each week, trying to improve some of the areas of their games, whether it be in the running game or pass protection. I thought our communication last week and in particular with he and Sebastian, it was pretty good. Those guys are a good front, they're going to make some plays on you but I thought Shaq handled himself well and like I said, between he and David and Tre' and that group of rookies, they just come in each week and work hard. They know they've got some things that they can improve on and hopefully we can continue to get better as we go through the season. That was an encouraging sign from Shaq to see him play the whole game and help us run the ball effectively at times and held off a decent rush with different patterns of blitzes and those kind of things. I thought he stepped up for us." Shaq takes out Demps.

Bolden bangs into the hole behind him, but the One-Armed Bandit is waiting there for him. He gets creamed. 2nd and 9 after the two-minute warning. Pats at the 40, Brady hits LaFell in the Flat. He turns up field for a few more. 3rd and 4, Pats go Empty. Brady throws it low to Martin and he scoops it out of the turf. He makes the CB miss, and runs up field for the First.

1st and 10 at the 22 with about 1:12 on the clock. Brady hits Amendola short. He fights over a tackle and dives for the First. That was another great play in this Drive. "Yeah, Danny really competed hard," BB said. "He's physically and mentally as tough of a player as we have. It was good to have him back out there and he really fought hard. I don't think he could have done any more than what he did. He gave us all he had on every play and we needed that." Amendola caught the ball in the box. Turned to see the Andre Hal coming up and spun out of his hit. Hal grabbed his foot and tripped him up. So Amendola dived for the First.

1st and 10 from the 12, Brady hands it to Bolden. He follows Tre' outside. He tries to get up field, but he can't find any space. Pats call timeout with 28-seconds left in the Half. Pats come out in a 4-Wide Weak-shotgun. Brady throws it away. 3rd and 9 at the 11 and a half. Pats come out in a 4-Wide Weak-shotgun again. LaFell is lined up alone on the Blindside. He curls outside near the marker. The pass is high and he leaps up and grabs it and lands right on the magic yellow line. He dives at the Pylon, but steps out of bounds for a First.

1st and Goal from the One, Pats come out in a 3-Wide I formation. Brady throws a Fade to Gronk. He gets his giant mitts up over Hal for a far too easy looking TD. "Just had to make a little move," Gronk said. "The DB played good defense. And Tom just put it up there where I just had to go up, go make a play and I did. So it was just good execution overall." It was a devastating play for Houston.

The Pats put themselves in great position to get the infamous BB double halftime score. "Yeah, you know I thought that was a good, good complimentary football on our part, something that's really been lacking in the last four weeks," BB said. "We made a stop on defense. We got the ball back. We got the two-minute warning, got a first down and were able to finish in the end zone with 14 or whatever it was, 15 seconds, 20 seconds whatever it was on the clock. It was a great job by our defense of making the stop. Great job by our special teams of putting us in good field position. Great job by the offense of executing the plays and also using the clock up and we came back in the second half and had the two close plays that were overturned and ended up getting a field goal, so that was a big 10-point swing for us. It's close to being more had we been able to convert those passes that were overturned. That drive at the end of the half was big and then the start of the third quarter to take advantage of that opening possession. I thought that 10-point swing obviously was a big help for us tonight." And the One-Handed Bandit has one tackle, and Hopkins had one catch in the 1st Half. Like I said in my 7-things, if they control those to guys they win relatively easily. Pats-17. Houston-3. Cheap shots-3.

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