X's and O's: Deion Branch's 2nd TD vs the Detroit Lions, Week 12

Over the past several days, I’ve been 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 were the basis for the plays that I have been analyzing. These X’s and O’s pieces, like the ones I did during the season, diagram the play and explain how it worked. We’re just about winding down, with only a few plays left to dissect.

Today, we’ll take a look at WR Deion Branch’s second touchdown reception against the Detroit Lions in Week 12 on Thanksgiving. It was supposed to be a slam dunk game for the Patriots, and while the score ended up being lopsided, the Lions put up a fight and kept it close for a good portion of the game. You can also see in this play one of the adjustments the Patriots had to make to slow down Ndamukong Suh.

The image above shows the Patriots’ and Lions’ formations before the snap. QB Tom Brady started under center and then backed out into the shotgun before the snap. The Patriots have two wide receivers (Branch and Wes Welker), two tight ends (Rob Gronkowski and Alge Crumpler), and one running back (BenJarvus Green-Ellis) on the field. Neither tight end is down in a three-point stance, and all pass catchers are bunched in the formation. The Lions are lined up in a base 4-3 defense, and they blitz a safety and a linebacker on the right side of the formation.

The diagram above shows the routes and blocking assignments by most of the offensive players. Unfortunately, none of the footage of the play shows what Welker (#83) does on the right side of the field, but in the grand scheme of what happened it’s not a big deal. Crumpler (#832), despite not starting with his hand on the ground, stays in and helps the right side of the line block the extra blitzers the Lions are throwing at Tom Brady. Brady was harassed by Ndamukong Suh for much of the game, and Suh did get a sack on Brady. In order to provide Brady with some extra protection, the Pats sent Green-Ellis (#42) to help block the interior of the line where Suh would be charging in. At first, I thought Green-Ellis was moving up to go into a pass route, but instead he stayed and helped block. Gronkowski (#87) ran an out pattern. Branch (#84) started an out pattern, then cut back inside and headed up the field. Brady hit him in stride and he beat two chasing Lions to the end zone for the score.

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

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


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