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.