Pats Vs. Houston

Keshawn Martin



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Okay, I get it. He fumbled. I'm not happy either. When he fumbled that punt in the 3rd I had visions of Rocky Mountain oysters dancing in my head. I, like most Pats fans, shouted "oh-no we suck again." I relived the horror of the Denver game, which started with a muffed punt. But it didn't lead to our demise. It was a dumb mistake, and one that he cannot allow to happen again. But, Keshawn Martin was spectacular on punt returns in this game.

He showed some elite suddenness dancing with the ball in his hands. He showed a great burst straight up field. He weaved and danced just enough to make guys miss, and make yards that just weren't there. Which also led to some confidence in the passing game. We are going to still need him in the passing game, at least until the Playoffs, and likely in the Playoffs as well. Plus, if he can remove any desire of the coaches to put Amendola or Edelman back there to return punts in the Playoffs than he has more than earned his place on the team.

He took a long road to get here "I think every day that you go out there and work with each other we try to encourage different combinations of guys starting back in OTA's to force multiple, multiple things," Josh said. "Communication, certainly I would say is the centerpiece of any good offensive team. For that matter, any team period, defense, special teams what have you so that we're on the same page. I think the ability to trust one another and understand the things that we would do when we have to react during the course of a play. Those are things that you have to learn through experience and exposure to one another. We all know going into the season that it's not going to be the same people the whole year. That's why we do that. We try to manufacture different periods in practice throughout the year so that our team knows one another as well as they possibly can because eventually they're going to have to work with each other in game situations under pressure. I think the more you know about each other, the more you know as a coach about each player, maybe what their strengths and weaknesses are, how they're going to respond in certain situations I think the better off you tend to be at the end of the season when you need to play your best football. Keshawn's a good example of a guy that we started to get some exposure to earlier in the year then he missed a few weeks and we kind of had to go back to work and do the same thing but whether its trust, anticipation, communication, just an overall confidence in one another and what the things that you can do together. I think those things are very difficult to force but you can try to manufacture a certain level of trust and confidence through repetition. I think as many times as we can in practice whether that be in competitive periods or with each other on our own side of the field just working individual drills, all of those things I would say go into assisting us in feeling good about the guys that are out there together and that's always the goal, is to try to put as many guys in the huddle on every play that trust each other, have confidence in one another and feel good about what the other guys around them are going to do. At the end of the year hopefully your trust, confidence, and anticipation is at an all-time high because you've certainly taken as many repetitions as you can. This time of the year we are still building there. There are some new faces that are still coming into the huddle and playing. Asante Cleveland played 13, 14, 15 snaps the other night. Keshawn played quite a bit. There are a lot of guys that have come in and out. I think that as much as we can continue to work on that it certainly helps us. I know the players really work hard at trying to gain the trust of one another and gather as much information about each other as they can because they certainly want to have that comfort level when they get into a pressure situation like we were on Sunday night."

But you just can't fumble the punt. I mean, there are turnovers and then there at turnovers. A special team turnover is always more devastating to a team than a normal fumble or INT. A fumble on a kick results in a 40, 50. or 60 plus yard change of field position. It is not just a switch from offense to defense. It is as big a game changing play as you can have in a game. The defense just fought like heck to defeat the opponent's offense, and has to get back up and do it again. You just can't fumble the punt. A fair catch is a great way to cap off a great defensive stand, and get the ball back in Brady's Hall Of Fame hands. They don't need spectacular every time.

They need Martin to play well enough on offence to give Edelman an extra week or two to heal, and then make sure that they never see a punt the rest of the season. They don't need him to be great. A fair catch here and there can be a great play as well. But man was he an amazing surprise returning punts in the 1st Half. He was the most dynamic returner we have seen in a while. `

He started flashing with an amazing punt return. But he also had a great TD catch in the 1st Quarter to start the scoring. He headed inside, and then curled around the DB. The DB seemed to lose sight of him as he cut outside. Then he kept fishhooking until he curled right into the throw from Brady, that was his second TD of the season. He is going to be the 4th or 5th option at WR for the playoffs, and having a guy who can make a move like that is a good thing for Brady.

Like early in the 2nd when he caught a 1st down pass that helped lead to the first field goal. He went in motion to the right, like he was going to block for White. They ran a play action sweep to the right, and both lines and all the linebacker went to the strong side. They had Amendola and LaFell lined up in Twins on the opposite side. When the ball was snapped Martin turned around and sprinted to the blindside. After the play action, Brady threw him the ball underneath LaFell and Amendola. Martin beat Kevin Johnson to the sideline for a 1st down at the 33-yard line. And that was really where they ended up kicking the field goal. So he not only got them a 1st down he also got them in field goal range. When the next three plays were disasters, it was his reception that got them the field goal.

He was also returning kickoffs. He is not as good a kick returner as he is a punt returner. He returned the kickoff after Houston scored their first field goal in the 2nd quarter to the 20. Not really the best return there. But if it takes those duties off of Amendola and Edelman than he is worth every worry.

On his second punt return he caught it at the Pats 47. His blocker had inside position, so he faked outside and then cut behind his block, and burst past midfield. Then he had three Texans in front of him with Slater on his left. He cut behind a great Slater block. Slater blocked one defender into another, and essentially picked the third. His block allowed Martin to scoot to the 41. Great return. He is so dynamic with the ball in his hands on punt returns.

After his big return, the Pats worked the ball into field goal range, but wanted more. They came out on 3rd and 4 with Martin in a Bunch on the left with Amendola and Gronk. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which one of those guys the defense is going to forget about. He lined up inside of Gronk with Amendola outside. Martin angled outside, and then cuts out right behind Amendola turning inside. He catches it with both hands and squeezes the ball with both hands. Kareem Jackson has a shot at him. Martin curls around him, and keeps his balance after he grabs his foot and trips him up a little. He gets to the 15-yard line. Runs underneath a DB, but is popped out of bounds by Demps. That was another great dynamic play. Only this time on a much needed 3rd down that led to Gronk's touchdown that put the Pats up 17-3 at the Half. Which is even more important, because they got the ball to start the 2nd Half. Martin returned the kickoff to the 21, and the Pats scored on the opening drive to put them up 20 to 3. All because Martin got that big 3rd down and ran his way to the 20 yard line. I mean, I know he fumbled that punt that caused heart palpitations all across New England. as Pats Fans had visions of Denver dancing in our heads. But man, he had a great game, and adds a dynamic element we haven't seen since Dion went down.

With 10:46 to go in the 3rd quarter, Houston is forced to punt. It looked like Martin was looking at the Jammer coming unblocked right at him as the ball arrived. He kind of caught it, but it bobbled out of his hands right away. That was a great spot for a fair catch. A fair catch, like the QB throwing the ball away when he has nothing, is not a bad play. The ball bounced to the ground, and then popped up into Coleman's hands, and flipped out of his hands. Then the rest of Houston punt team arrived like a red tide, and splashed over everyone involved. It was so reminiscent of the Denver fumble. Special turnover are always so much worse. They punted from the 34-yard line. And Marin fumbled it on the 22-yard line. That is a 42-yard turnover. It put Houston back in the game with a massive swing of momentum.

But it was just one mistake, and the defense bailed him out. He added something this week that the team really needed. He adds a dynamic make you miss quickness that we lost with Dion. White has shown some of that as well, but it was really Martin who was the best at getting yards that aren't there. Now he can't fumble a punt again. You cannot have that. I know that. But he looked like he was gaining some confidence right up to that point. Just fair catch the ball when a guy is coming full speed and unblocked right at you.

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