X's and O's: Gronkowski's First TD vs. Steelers, Week 10

Over the next several days, I’ll be taking a look back into the 2010 regular season at the X’s and O’s of the New England Patriots’ most memorable touchdowns. The Patriots’ Official Website put together a list of 2010′s most memorable touchdowns, and these will be the basis for the plays that will be analyzed. These X’s and O’s pieces, like the ones I did during the season, diagram the play and explain how it worked.

Today, we’ll take a look at TE Rob Gronkowski’s first of three touchdowns against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10. Gronkowski had a big night after having a poor game previously against the Cleveland Browns. Gronk is able to use his athleticism to beat a faster corner.

The image above shows what the Patriots’ and Steelers’ formations looked like before the snap. The Patriots are in the shotgun with with two running backs (Danny Woodhead and Sammy Morris), two wide receivers (Wes Welker and Deion Branch), and one tight end (Rob Gronkowski). Instead of lining up with a hand down on the line of scrimmage, Gronkowski is lined up in as a slot receiver to Tom Brady’s right. The Steelers are lined up in a nickel defense, with the nickel corner lined up on Gronk. The Steelers’ particular nickel formation in this instance include three defensive linemen, three linebackers, and five defensive backs. The two safeties are lined up deep at the edge of the end zone (out of view of the picture). Once the ball is snapped, the Steelers rush two defensive linemen and one linebacker, while the third d-lineman drops into coverage.

I could not draw the routes on the picture effectively because of the angle, so I diagrammed the Gronkowski touchdown play above. Gronkowski (#87) runs a seam pattern and has single coverage against defensive back William Gay. Deion Branch (#84) draws the safety’s attention to his area as he runs a go route, leaving Gronk singled up on Gay. Both Sammy Morris (#34) and Danny Woodhead (#39) run the routes above from the backfield, drawing linebacker coverage, while Wes Welker runs a shorter out-and-in pattern.

Gronk is able to out jump William Gay for the ball and make the catch for the first of his three touchdowns.

To view footage of this play and other highlights from the game, click HERE.

Previous X’s and O’s of the Patriots’ Most Memorable Touchdowns of 2010:



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