Breaking Down The Breakdown By Polamalu On The Patriots First Touchdown

On the New England Patriots first touchdown of the game Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, safety Troy Polamalu was worked over pretty good by quarterback Tom Brady and below is a breakdown of the breakdown.

On the first down play, the Patriots are in 11 personnel with two wide receivers to the left and one to the right. The Steelers have their nickel personnel on the field in a cover three look with four underneath in zone coverage.

In cover three, the deep safety, which in this case is Polamalu, has deep responsibilities for the middle third of the field while the two outside corners have deep responsibilities for the outside thirds.

On this particular play, the Patriots make sure to give wide receiver Danny Amendola plenty of space to work the outside seem as the two outside wide receivers, Julian Edelman and Aaron Dobson, both run out and up vertical routes which ensures that both Ike Taylor and William Gay stay away from the middle of the field.

At the snap, Brady stares down Edelman to his right and Polamalu bites on it even though Taylor and fellow safety Ryan Clark have perfect bracket coverage. With Gay being stressed on the opposite side of the field with Dobson, Amendola is wide open for the easy touchdown.

Polamalu has to cheat to Gay’s side on this play and should have trusted Taylor more than he did.



    Troy, Troy, Troy……… smh

  • steeltown

    Yea..that was pretty bad…. in the end though Troy has impressed me soo many times with his instincts and physicality that I cant even get mad at him

  • Douglas Andrews

    Wonder if Troy gives Coach Lebeau fits sometimes when he guesses and tries to makes plays like this one instead of sticking with his responsibilities on the play?

  • SG

    He could have thrown to either guy on the left side and had a TD.

  • Madi

    How was Cortez Allen’s name not mentioned in this article?
    It’s been awhile since my playing days, but the way I remember playing CB, if your responsibility is the flat, but all receivers go deep, you have to go deep too. Isn’t trusting Timmons and Williams to get the RB all by themselves better than trusting the safety to guess the correct side with everybody going deep? Hell, even if Troy did go the right way, it’d be much better to have Allen there as well. Amendola could have sat down or broken the route off somewhere, and then there’d have been nothing Troy could do anyway.
    I thought the moment I saw it that Troy was not the biggest problem on this play by a long shot. Gotta say, I still do. And if what Allen did really truly was his responsibility, then that’s a scheme that needs to change, because it’s just stupid.

  • Shea Fahr

    He got looked off by a very smart QB. I am a lot more concerned with Clark right now than I am with Troy.

  • treeher

    I don’t understand this one. Offense overloaded on left side, Troy should have had a bias to that side. How can he make such a mistake with his experience?


    Good eye. Cortez looks like he has an “oops” moment there.

  • Virdin Barzey

    This was a very amateurish move by Pola who is one of my all time favorite Steelers. Hasn’t he learned by now that you have to play disciplined against Brady? Shame.

  • dgh57

    I question whether we even watch any film of upcoming opponents! I think it’s well known Brady is the/a master of head fakes. That’s probably what makes him such a great QB!

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I thought the same thing the wr jus goes right past him then he just turned to look at brady throw it

  • Cash44

    If Cortez goes turns and vacates his area against the patriots to track down a receiver….hello crossing route next possession. Hindsight is great to say “no one was there, he should have ran with him”. During the play, there could be a back leaking to his side, there could be a drag from the other side. Would you still want to blame Cortez if he had chased the receivers and they picked up a huge first down underneath to his side later in the game? You still need to cover your responsibilities. Troy takes a gigantic gamble, and loses. You still need to stay true to your responsibilities. He does get depth, his job is not to turn and run with receivers in that defensive call. Hindsight viewing at its finest.

  • Chris Wilkes

    I agree. Cortez had underneath coverage responsibility just like Clark had on the other side. By Troy not trusting Taylor to do his job he left Gay with 2 receivers to cover.

  • Madi

    So you believe Troy honestly thought Ike would need his help with one, but Gay could take two by himself, including the Patriots’ best? The alternative is that Amendola was supposed to be covered by Allen.

  • Madi

    It’s not supposed to be hindsight. Cortez’s job is to get it right as it happens. Suppose we’re in cover 2 but 4 receivers go deep. The corners just leave it up to the safeties to protect the flats?? Hello touchdown every single play.

  • Chris Wilkes

    Who knows what Troy thought, but bottom line is he left Gay with 2 receivers to cover. He didn’t do his job on the play and that’s fairly obvious. Just as obvious as Cortez was playing zone underneath.

  • Cash44

    No, its not his job. In this defense, it is the underneaths guys job to get DEPTH if receivers go vertical on you – not turn, vacate your area, and run with them. You need to trust that the guys behind you do their job as well. If troy does – he is in great position to make a play. In your scenario about cover 2 again, if guys run past the flat coverage corners…you get DEPTH, not turn and cover. If they do that they leave the flat wide open. You get depth, and force the quarterback to throw over you and in front of the safety. 4 verticals into a cover 2, the safeties are in position to make a play. If your going to vacate, any competent team will run your corner off and take advantage of the 25-30 yards of free space you just create with a back, tightend, or crossing pattern to that side. Hello walking down the field. Stay true to your assignments… that’s why Troy is not a good free safety, and honestly, should never be asked to be one.

  • He made a huge mistake but he played with consistent effort more than I can say for ryan arm bar clark