I just rewatched that drive again. The one where the Jacksonville Jaguars were up by 10 and it was the middle of the fourth quarter. The one where the defense pushed the New England Patriots into a second-and-18 and then a third-and-18. The one where if the most talented, most productive defense in franchise history gets a stop, the game is likely out of reach for Tom Brady.
Yeah, that drive.
We all know how it ends. Danny Amendola is the hero. The defense is left sucking wind. And Blake Bortles had hit his ceiling.
It’s the first time I’ve rewatched the game and specifically this drive and, honestly, it took me a little longer this week to do so. It was a gut punch then and it’s a gut punch now.
Let’s look at the most important drive of the game from the AFC Championship.
Play #1: 1st and 10 at NE 15
A.J. Bouye giving Brandin Cooks this much cushion is puzzling. We have the best duo of cover corners in the league and they’re without Rob Gronkowski at this point. Who are we afraid of beating us? Regardless, it almost works.
Play #2: 1st and 10 at NE 33
Marcell Dareus is one of the best midseason acquisitions over the past few years across the league. His run-stopping ability was impactful nearly immediately and he even got a couple of sacks and a handful of pressures in the second half of the season. His sack here was nearly the game-clinching play, forcing Tom Brady into a second-and-18.
Play #3: 2nd and 18 at NE 25
Tom Brady takes a deep shot and it’s covered beautifully by Tashaun Gipson and Jalen Ramsey. It’s a four-and-out, right?
Play #4: 3rd and 18 at NE 25
Nope. The below angle shows you exactly what happened.
Myles Jack veers too far out of his zone and allows Tom Brady a relatively target to Danny Amendola, whose nearest defender was Tashaun Gipson who it looks like was never supposed to get in between Brady and Amendola any way. This looks like a blown coverage by Myles as slot cornerback Aaron Colvin was covering the zone he was inching towards as the play developed (go back to the sideline angle to see it a little better).
Play #5: 1st and 10 at NE 46
Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels are emptying their bag of tricks to beat the Jaguars. Think about that.
After a double-lateral that saw Myles Jack come away with a forced fumble, they run the flea flicker to...
It was Dorsett’s first (and only) reception of the postseason.
Play #6: 1st and 10 at JAX 23
Incomplete to Danny Amendola.
Play #7: 2nd and 10 at JAX 23
I don’t know what happened with the coverage along the sideline, but Aaron Colvin is too far in and A.J. Bouye and Tashaun Gipson give both Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola way too much cushion. Easy line of sight for Tom Brady.
Play #8: 1st and Goal at JAX 9
Danny Amendola is the slot receiver and runs an easy shallow cross. Dwayne Allen gets in Myles Jack’s way and prevents him from helping Telvin Smith, who is caught between a rock and a hard place — does he cover Amendola in front of him or Allen behind him.
Tom Brady has cut the lead to 20-17 and with a little more than a half of football left, we all know how it ends.