Sunday afternoon's trip to Buffalo was a clear example of that competitive balance. After one drive, it appeared the Patriots precision passing attack was ready to blow the Bills off the field. Then, late in the second quarter, it looked like the home squad was ready to go into halftime.
The eventual 52-28 blowout of the Bills included 11 touchdowns, eight turnovers, 1,018 total yards, a couple missed field goals and plenty of other intriguing, game-changing plays.
It saw four Patriots top 100 yards – a pair of running backs and a pair of receivers. It saw freakishly athletic nose tackle
But arguably the biggest play of the game came from the smallest guy on the field –
The Patriots trailed 21-7 midway through the third quarter. Buffalo had just added a touchdown to its lead. New England marched from its own 20 to the Bills 17, but faced a third-and-nine with 8:18 to play in the third quarter.
At the snap Woodhead immediately releases to the left side. Brady's first read appears to be down the right seam, where Gronkowski is breaking out at the first-down marker but also is stumbling to the ground coming out of his break. Brady gets squeezed a bit from pressure on both edges – although both
Woodhead's initial route was an out at about the 10-yard line where he was covered by Bills weakside linebacker Nick Barnett. But with Brady having to step up and the timing of the play being off, Woodhead had to improvise. As Brady was rolling to the left, Woodhead slanted back toward the middle of the field, catching the ball on the ad-libbed play at about the 10. He then easily broke free of a Barnett arm-tackle attempt before shooting up the field. He broke another arm-tackle attempt by safety Delano Howell to burst into the end zone for the third-down touchdown.
Sure the Patriots could have kicked a field goal – although
Woodhead's score was only the second of New England's seven touchdowns on the day, but it just may have been the most important time in the game.
“That was a big drive for us. A bad drive there and we could have gotten knocked out at that point,” Bill Belichick said afterward.
On a day when many of his teammates put up huge numbers and the PR department had a litany of postgame notes in terms of production, Woodhead's 17-yard touchdown could very easily have gotten lost in the mix. After all he only played a handful of snaps on the day and finished with just two catches for 22 yards and never had a single carry on the ground for a team that rushed for 247 yards.
But with one key scramble play and a nice athletic move up field the diminutive playmaker kept the Patriots in a game that could have easily gotten away from them. The end result was victory, snapping a two-game losing streak and pulling into a three-way tie for first place in the AFC East.
It's just the kind of play that championship teams make at key times. It's also the kind of play that makes for the perfect subject of Take Two-sday!
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