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Patriots Passing Attack Back In Play
The Sports Xchange
Two of the more interesting plays in New England's Sunday evening 38-20 win in Philadelphia highlighted exactly why the Patriots passing game is so difficult to defend.
The first of the two big second-quarter Tom Brady big plays went to Deion Branch. Brady was pressured on the play and avoided a sack before moving up and left in the pocket. Branch was originally running a comeback, but when Brady had to improvise the receiver stopped and turned back downfield. New England's two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback made a perfect throw to his Super Bowl MVP wide receiver, who then hightailed it down the field for a 63-yard gain to set up a 1-yard touchdown.
While Branch was the one running down the field, the receiver was quick to praise his quarterback.
"It wasn't a play that I made, it was a play that he made with his feet," Branch said.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick saw the play as just the latest example of the unique relationship and rapport that Brady has with a receiver he first started making plays with in New England back in 2002.
"It starts with (the fact that) you have two smart guys, both very instinctive players that if something comes up that you haven't done or talked about before, I'd say both of them probably would do the right thing -- or what you would want them to do if you haven't told them what to do; what they would do is most of the time what you would want them to do," Belichick said. "That puts them pretty much on the same page to begin with. Certainly the experience and reps they've had together (in) practice, games and walkthroughs and talking about situations and talking about things that come up, I'm sure that's all added to it.
"Deion is a very instinctive receiver. He has a great sense of timing, of when the quarterback is ready to throw the ball, when he needs to be open, how to get open. Tom, from his position, kind of has that same sense of what the receiver would expect him to do and what he should do in certain situations and that's almost always what Deion would do. But inevitably things come up that either go against the grain or it's not quite the way we've talked about it and the player has to make a decision. I would say those guys almost always do what -- if you had gone over it -- what you would have wanted them to do."
Brady's working relationship with Welker, who essentially replaced Branch in the offense in 2007 a year after the latter had been traded to the Seahawks following a contract dispute, has a similar relationship with No. 12.
On Sunday that manifested itself in a site adjustment on the field that led to a 41-yard touchdown, Brady hitting a wide open Welker in stride down the left hashes.
"He said before the play that if I get this certain look, then I'm going to fake like I'm running the in cut and then run the post, and he did it and came to the sideline and said I told you, I told you!," Brady relayed after the game. "So that was pretty funny. It's nice when they work out kind of like how you talk about it. Wes (Welker) is so consistent and reliable and he's a phenomenal player."
Branch and Welker both topped 100 yards in the victory, with the two diminutive receivers helping New England to yet another 30-point day.
Their talents, production and relationships with Brady just one of the many, many reasons why the Patriots offense continues to evolve and become more challenging to defend by the week.
--QB Tom Brady passed for 361 yards and three touchdowns Sunday, his 119th victory as a starting quarterback to move into a tie with Johnny Unitas for career wins.
--RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis had just 44 yards on 14 attempts, but did find the end zone twice in the victory. Green-Ellis now has seven rushing touchdowns for the year, despite having gone five games without a rushing score.
--RB Danny Woodhead had just 20 yards on four carries in Philly, as he continues to struggle to find a role on the New England offense. Woodhead still ranks second on New England with 233 yards rushing on 53 attempts for the season.
--WR Wes Welker tied for a game high with eight catches for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The performance was the NFL receptions (82) leader's sixth 100-yard game of the season.
--WR Deion Branch also topped the 100-yard mark, totaling 125 yards on six receptions including a long of 63 yards.
--TE Rob Gronkowski had just four receptions for 59 yards, but did find the end zone on a 24-yard touchdown. With 11 touchdowns on the season, Gronkowski is two shy of the NFL record for receiving touchdowns by a tight end held by Vernon Davis (2009) and Antonio Gates (2004).
--CB Antwaun Molden recorded his first career interception when he hauled in a Vince Young pass on Sunday.
--LB Tracy White, a career special teamer, made just his third career start on defense against the Eagles. It was White's first start on defense since he started a pair of games in just his second NFL season back in 2004.
--CB Kyle Arrington leads the NFL with seven interceptions, but he also led the Patriots with 10 solo tackles in the win at Philly.
--LB Rob Ninkovich had a sack of Vince Young in victory, giving him 3.5 for the season to rank third on the Patriots defense.
--DT Kyle Love also brought Vince Young down for a sack, his second on the season.
--WR Julian Edelman continued to see defensive snaps as a slot corner and nickel back against the Eagles, finishing with three tackles including a nice open-field stop of Vince Young on a scramble.
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