Tom Brady vs Seahawks – Super Bowl XLIX

Tom Brady cemented his legacy as one of the all-time greats in Super Bowl XLIX vs. the Seattle Seahawks and one of the best defenses in the NFL. Brady led a patented 10 point comeback in the 4th quarter, the largest in Super Bowl history. Brady set the Super Bowl record for completions (37), while attempting 50 passes and finishing with 328 yards and 4 TD’s. But how did Brady do it? The Patriots offensive gameplan against Seattle was to get the ball out of Brady’s hand quick, to eliminate the pass rush that gave Peyton Manning so much trouble last year. Brady spread the ball, dinking and dunking for most of the game. But when he needed a big time throw, whether a tight window, a deep ball or a timing route. He made the throw, right on the money almost every time.

 

Let’s take a look at how Brady dominated the passing game and led the Patriots to victory.


Play 1: 3rd & 6. 10. 1:50 1st.

Formation: Shotgun Trips Open

Offensive Personnel: 11 Personnel

Coverage: Cover 2

http://i.imgur.com/7tzTbTc.jpg

The first play that we see is probably Brady’s worst of the day. After leading a drive with 6 straight completions, Brady throws an interception. The Seahawks run a Cover 2, something they don’t do often. To the field side, the Patriots outside WR runs a “dig” while the slot WR runs a “snag”. The TE to the field runs a crossing route to the boundary (top) side, while the single WR also runs a “dig”. The coverage by the Seahawks is perfect for this particular play. The field CB will be sitting right where the “snag” is coming to, while the slot CB and the SS will be bracketing the “dig”. While Brady struggles to find someone who is open, the Seahawks pass rush hits home. Brady sees the pressure and throws the ball up for grabs where it is easily intercepted. There was really no one open on the play, so in hindsight the best option would have been to throw the ball away.


Play 2: 3rd & 9. 35. 11:17 2nd.

Formation: Shotgun Double Flex

Offensive Personnel: 12 Personnel (TE2 split to the boundary)

Coverage: Cover 1

http://i.imgur.com/MBUCXyf.jpg

The Seahawks base coverage is usually Cover 3, but with the Patriots wanting to throw shallow routes most of the time you will see a lot of Cover 1. This play is an example. This time, the Patriots run a good man-beating play. To the boundary (bottom), the split TE runs a “go” while the in-line TE runs a “dig”. To the field, the Patriots motion the WR’s into a stack, in order to free up the underneath WR. The Seahawks DB’s to the motion side are playing at different levels, the reason for this is to eliminate the pick routes. The levels actually work against the Seahawks on this play, barely. The motioning WR immediately goes on a drag route running away from the CB. The CB shows very nice closing speed but the throw by Brady is excellent, leading his WR beautifully allowing for yards after catch. The play results in a gain of 23.


Play 3: 2nd & 9. 11. 9:51 2nd.

Formation: Shotgun Dice Slot

Offensive Personnel: 11 Personnel

Coverage: Cover 1

http://i.imgur.com/JpqTf01.jpg

The Seahawks are once again in Cover 1. This time Brady makes a fantastic throw. To the field side (top), the Patriots run a “slant-flat” combo, and Brady throws the slant. What makes this throw so great is the placement of the ball. Brady must throw the slant to his WR in between 3 different defenders: the WLB, the FS and the CB. The WLB is pushing to the hash taking away any inside throw, while the CB is closing from the outside not allowing an outside throw and the FS is over the top so an up field throw can not be made. Brady gets the ball right over top of the WLB, while putting it in between the CB and FS perfectly. Brady’s 1st TD of the night.


Play 4: 2nd & 5. 22. 0:36 2nd.

Formation: Shotgun Flip Trips

Offensive Personnel: 11 Personnel

Coverage: Cover 1

http://i.imgur.com/P1Qpmzs.jpg

With time winding down in the 1st half, the Patriots are driving deep into Seahawks territory. The coverage and route combinations are almost irrelevant on this play because I believe that Brady already knows where he’s going before he snaps the ball. He is throwing to the TE, aligned to the boundary (bottom), being covered man-to-man by the WLB. Brady throws the ball perfectly over the out stretched arms of the defender allowing his TE to make the grab in the endzone and finishing off the drive with his 2nd TD of the day.


Play 5: 3rd & 6. -24. 9:45 3rd.

Formation: Shotgun Flip Trips

Offensive Personnel: 11 Personnel

Coverage: Cover 1

http://i.imgur.com/0Ig0BR0.jpg

It’s 3rd down and the Seahawks are bringing the blitz so the ball must come out quickly. The bunch WR’s to the field (bottom), run a vertical and a crossing route while the split out TE runs a “dig”. The TE is being covered by the SS in man-to-man coverage. With the Seahawks bringing their LB’s on the blitz, there are no underneath defenders making this an easy throw. What makes this so impressive is the throw Brady makes while taking a huge hit from the Seahawks. The ball is delivered to the TE allowing him to pick up the first down. The toughness in the pocket on this play is what makes Brady so great, always willing to hang in there and make the throw that needs to be made.


Play 6: 3rd & 9. -32. 8:15 3rd.

Formation: Shotgun Split Offset

Offensive Personnel: 21

Coverage: Cover 3

http://i.imgur.com/9plmUnY.jpg

With the Seahawks DB’s playing off of the WR’s on this play, Brady knows that they are in a zone coverage. Both of the outside WR’s run deep comeback routes, taking the DB’s with them in order to stretch the defense so the TE in the slot comes open on his “spot” route. The MLB does over run the TE for a split second but as the TE spots up behind the MLB vacancy, he realizes. After the ball is throw, the MLB is able to cut the route off since the TE is stationary. The MLB makes a nice play intercepting the pass, Brady’s 2nd of the day.


Play 7: 1st & 10. -35. 4:48 3rd.

Formation: Singleback U-Wing

Offensive Personnel: 12 Personnel

Coverage: Cover 3

http://i.imgur.com/rA0sQR6.jpg

The Seahawks are in Cover 3 on this play, although the CB’s on the outside have man-to-man responsibilities with their WR’s. The underneath coverage on the Cover 3 takes away any crossing routes on in-breaking routes but leaves the underneath checkdowns open. To the boundary side (top), the WR runs a deep comeback route at 17 yards, deep enough to be behind the underneath coverage. Brady does a great job stepping up in the pocket after feeling the pressure and delivering a strike to the deep comeback route. The play was negated due to an unrelated penalty, but still a very impressive throw that is worth noting.


Play 8: 3rd & 9. -36. 3:28 3rd.

Formation: Shotgun Flip Trips

Offensive Personnel: 11 Personnel

Coverage: Cover 1

http://i.imgur.com/DzDo4j3.jpg

With it being 3rd and long here for the Patriots, they decide to run a double verticals concept while also running a “dig” on the backside. Those 3 routes can be seen as decoy routes on this play though. The Seahawks are in man-to-man coverage, and Brady knows that his WR in the slot can beat his man on the “pivot” route. The WR does beat his man, but the MLB recognizes what is happening and quickly breaks on the ball. Brady does not make a perfect throw on this play, although not terrible, and it is a little out in front of his WR instead of on his chest. Had he made the catch he may have came up short for the 1st down regardless.

Breakdown continues on the next page.

Derek Willems

Derek was born, bred and fed in the Dawg Pound as a Cleveland Browns fan. Currently he is a student assistant with the Kent State Football program, his primary focus being Defensive Backs. He eventually hopes to coach high level football but for now in his spare time he enjoys breaking down film and writing to inform the readers of things he is seeing. For all of Derek's articles: <strong><a href="http://nflbreakdowns.com/author/DerekWillems/">Click Here</a>.</strong>